This is the second of a two-part series, looking at how those who are granted a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) can be helped if things go wrong. So, who protects the attorney? Read the first part here abuse by the attorney.

When we ask who ‘watches the watchmen’, we tend to be asking who keeps the rule-makers in check – who polices the police.  But there’s another way to interpret the phrase: who helps the helpers? Who guards the guardian? Often, the answer is ‘nobody’.  If you have been appointed as an attorney, this may be a very real problem – who protects you?

The pressure of overseeing someone else’s financial and health decisions can be huge.  In many ways, it is harder than managing your own affairs.  You may not have all the details you need about bank accounts or business arrangements, for example.  As an attorney, you may struggle to second-guess what a donor would want you to do, when acting in their best interests. You may not know what companies the donor is insured with or even where they keep their spare car keys.  And, in acting in the donor’s best interests, you may be making decisions that friends and family disagree with.  On top of all this, you still have your own life to run as well.

It’s ok to seek help

If there’s one thing to remember, it’s this: it’s ok to ask for help.  In fact, when talking to banks or other agencies, it’s a good idea to ask them at the outset what procedures they have for helping those appointed as an attorney.  Here is HSBC offering assistance relating to mental health and attorneys.

Back in 2013, banks acted to streamline the processes needed for dealing with LPAs.  Alas, the truth is that, a decade later, it can still be a nightmare to sort out someone’s financial situation, particularly if they have shared accounts or overseas deposits.

A much more worrying lack of support is apparent when it comes to protecting the health and wellbeing of the attorney themselves.  It’s no surprise that the additional stress of being an attorney can have implications for an attorney’s own mental wellbeing, whether or not they have a history of mental health issues – mixed anxiety and depression affects about 8 per cent of people at any given time. (see the Mental Health Foundation and mental health charity Mind for more information).

It’s a truly shocking figure and, if you’ve tried to seek help via the NHS, chances are you know just how appallingly over-stretched mental health services are.

Struggling? You are not alone

The scale of the issue means you can be sure you are not alone with your challenges.  The value of having someone to talk to about your difficulties cannot be overstated. From an attorney’s perspective, it would be particularly cruel to suffer by yourself if your troubles were triggered by helping another.

If the pressures of acting as POA are getting to you, do reach out. If you have a trusted friend, confide in them. There may be a lengthy waiting list to see your GP, but make an appointment.  There are numerous agencies and charities who can help as well – a few are listed below.

There’s no stigma in asking for help and millions of us do just that every year.  If you’re acting as an attorney for a loved one, getting help isn’t just protecting your wellbeing – it’s also protecting the person you look after.

Need Help? Who protects the Attorney?

If you’re wondering who protects the protector, useful places to seek help and mental health advice include:

Mind – Information and advice for people with mental health problems

Mental Health UK – Supports people affected by mental health problems

The Mental Health Foundation – Helps people understand, protect and sustain their mental health


The Samaritans – Confidential emotional support for people experiencing distress or despair

Rethink Mental Illness – Advice for people with mental health problems and their carers

Saneline – National out-of-hours mental health helpline

Campaign Against Living Miserably – Advice and free, confidential chats with helpline staff 365 days a year


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