Record numbers of people are being taken to court over misuse of lasting power of attorney (LPA), latest data reveals.

Research published this week by law firm Nockolds showed the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), which manages LPAs, made 721 applications to the Court of Protection to remove or censure LPAs in 2018/19. This was 55 per cent up on the previous year and a record high.

Peter King, partner at Nockolds, said: “The sharp rise in legal actions against attorneys is vastly greater than the increase in the number of attorneys on the register, which suggests that there are some fundamental questions about how the current system operates and whether there are sufficient safeguards at the point at which people register.”

The findings showed that making improper gifts and not acting in a vulnerable person’s best interests were the two main reasons for attorneys being censured and removed, the FT Adviser website reports.

The OPG said that one of its main priorities was to protect people who lacked mental capacity and had nominated an LPA.

In April, the office highlighted that part of its new strategy to protect such people would include working more closely with safeguarding partners, such as adult social services and the NHS, to help them understand the OPG’s role more and look for ways to work together more successfully.

Mr King added: “Many LPAs are now created without any professional advice. With most banking now conducted online, there is little to no oversight of the transactions that take place, which leaves the system wide open to abuse.

“Financial planners have a key role in assisting attorneys to understand their role better and to protect the donor’s interests.”