Lasting power or attorney

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
Hi... I'm new to this forum and hoping that someone might be able to give some advice.

My dad had a severe stroke in March aged 58, leaving him with significant disability and what I believe to be fluctuating capacity (I'm a registered mental health nurse so fairly clued up on process for assessing this). My step mum is next of kin however she was unable to access any of dad's affairs due to data protection/confidentiality etc. Therefore, she applied for lasting power of attorney for finances and health/welfare. She asked me and her daughter - dad's step daughter - to act as replacements should anything happen to her and we both signed the paperwork together. I have a sister who lives in Spain and she has yesterday received paperwork staying that in fact my step mum and step sister have applied as joint attorneys with me as a replacement - my step mum became very cagey when my sister tried to discuss this with her and changed the subject. Firstly I'm upset that they have done this and changed the application without letting me know. Secondly, I don't know about the legalities of my signing the paperwork as replacement if it was under 'false pretence' as it were and why wasn't I informed by the solicitor of the joint application by them as my sister in Spain was? Thirdly, I genuinely believe my dad would not be happy with my step sister being joint attorney and not myself - she can be quite hot headed and impulsive and I don't actually think she fully understands the process as I had to explain to her what we were signing and what it meant when I beleived we were both acting as replacements. I feel like I'm caught between a rock and a hard place as I do not want to cause any tensions or arguments in what is an already hugely stressful situation, however it all seems very final and this whole set up does not sit right with me - I don't actually believe they would do anything not in dad's best wishes but I'm obviously a bit anxious now that it all seems to have been done quietly and deliberately without me knowing and I'm worried that myself and my sister - as his closest blood relations - have not got any say from a legal point of view in his finances or more importantly, his care. This is due to go through within the next fortnight so I'm restricted by time. Any helpful hints and tips are welcome! Thanks in advance x
Contact the OPG, Office of Public Guardians, to talk this through with them. It certainly sounds very "fishy" and not in dad's best interests.
Was a Mental Capacity Assessment formally undertaken by a professional?
What attempts were made to ensure dad had an opportunity of stating his wishes?
I can't believe that he wanted his step children, rather than his own children, to have control over his affairs or care.
Thanks for your reply bowlingbun - i will contact them today for advice. The whole thing just doesn't sit right with me... if they had spoken to me and my sister to explain why beforehand it would be a different situation - it doesn't bode well for me that things have changed and it's been kept quiet. I understand that the whole point of LPA is to help dad make his own decisions but I really am concerned my step sister will be making decisions on what she thinks is best, not based on what dad would really want 😔
Hi Linsey,
How has this happened? Remembering back to when my Mum did her LPAs with me as her attorney, I had to be very precise with this legal document. I understand that you thought you were signing the document to agree to be Dad’s attorney jointly with your step sister as ‘back up attorneys’ should anything prevent your step mum for acting. The signing should have been witnessed by an independent witness and have taken place before Dad signed it.
My understanding, and I am no expert, just remembering from 10 years back, If you read the document just before signing and all was in order as to the responsibilities you were expecting and it has since been changed, without you signing a new document agreeing to be the sole back up attorney then a crime may have taken place.
I believe that by signing the document you all asserted that Dad had full capacity and understood completely what he was signing. Especially the independent witness.
Before submitting the document there is no reason why a new one can’t be written and if Dad, with full understanding, had asked your step sister to act with your step mum and signed a new document in front of an independent witness that’s all legal, ( a bit like writing a new will) BUT as a back up attorney you should have been informed and agree to act as such, as your role had changed from the first version and you should have been asked to sign a new document.
Did you read the document just before signing or did you trust that the document was still the same as on a previous reading? In which case you may have been tricked but you should have read it.
Do you think that the document you signed has been substituted with another, or with new pages? That is very suspect.
Please do seek advice from OPG as BB says. They take it very seriously.
Hope all works out.
KR
Hi Lynsey

Phone the OPG tomorrow morning. They're open from 9am 0300 456 0300
That means an audit trail will immediately start.

You could also go back to the solicitor to see if they have a copy of the original document to check what you signed. I take it that when you went through the document with the solicitor it all appeared in order?

If your sister is a notified party, then she will be able to register an objection.

Link here:

https://www.gov.uk/object-registration

If your dad has capacity, even if fluctuating, he can also object / revoke - I assume this is the case as the LPA has only just been applied for, unless there has been a significant reduction in mental capacity in the last few weeks.

But the Customer Contacts at the OPG should be your first point of call. They will be able to advise you.
Thanks everyone for your replies and advice. I contacted the OPG and although they couldn't do anything at that point as the application hadn't reached them, they were very helpful with advising my options. I contacted the solicitor to determine how dads capacity was assessed. He stated that he had done hundresd of assessments and was certaon dad had capacity because he nodded when he was given the information - I hit the roof! I asked him 5 or 6 times to explain specifically to me how he made the assessment that dad understood from him just nodding and it wasn't until I told him my professional role and described how I would be hauled over the coals by documenting someone had capacity because they nodded in agreement that he stopped trying to talk over me! So, he soon backtracked and has withdrawn the application in order for a medical professional to assess dad's capacity. It makes you wonder how many other applications he has processed like this. I have also sent him screenshots to demonstrate I signed the forms under the impression both myself and my step sister were replacements and he has acknowledged this. I know it is going to cause an absolute mess with my step family however at least I will know that everything is being done as it should be and being done right by dad.
Really pleased you've got it sorted. I think you can very easily say to your step family that you were concerned the solicitor had made a mistake. Does your dad have fluctuating capacity or do you feel things are past that now? If the latter then I think you will have to go down the Court of Protection / Deputy route.

This is about mental capacity: https://www.gov.uk/make-decisions-for-s ... l-capacity

This is information on Court of Protection: https://www.gov.uk/become-deputy

You may feel after this experience that either your or your sister - or both - should be appointed to act jointly and severally with your step mum and leave your step sister out of it. That way you can keep an eye on your dad's affairs and if someone becomes unable to act as an attorney, they can just be removed. Avoid going down the 'joint' only route if at all possible.