I nearly choked on my cornflakes this morning, listening to Radio 4's Today programme, featuring a senior judge admonishing the use of a power of attorney.
Denzil Lush was warning of the risks of financial abuse and strains the use of these legal documents can place on family relationships.
With 20 years experience as the senior judge in the Court of Protection, his opinion on the subject is valid. He has apparently adjudicated in 6,000 power of attorney cases.
However, there are several safeguards which can reduce the risks when using a Lasting Power of Attorney and ensure smooth running for these important legal instruments.
This starts with choosing a suitable attorney, preferably more than one individual who you know and trust to make important decisions on your behalf.
Make sure you pick someone who has demonstrated their competence in looking after their own affairs!
If you appoint more than one attorney, you can choose for them to act jointly or severally; the former option providing a little less risk that one individual will make inappropriate decisions on their own.
All attorneys should read and follow the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice. It says what you must do when you act or make decisions on behalf of people who can’t act or make those decisions for themselves.
It's worth remembering that a Lasting Power of Attorney does not give you unlimited authority to make decisions on behalf of the donor.
When creating the document, you as the donor can impose restrictions; for example, on making gifts or whether you accept 'life-sustaining' treatments.
If you have concerns about a relative or someone acting as an attorney, you can contact the Office of the Public Guardian.
Despite the comments from Mr Lush this morning, I would not be too quick to dismiss the value of a Lasting Power of Attorney, established carefully and implemented in line with best practice.
"We take swift action if any abuse is reported and have a zero tolerance approach to any attorney or deputy who breaks the law."