STEP has launched its STEP GRP as part of its major focus on finding solutions to the challenges posed by the increase in mental incapacity globally. This increase is highlighted in STEP’s recent research report, Loss of Mental Capacity: A Global Perspective.
The STEP GRP is a template and a benchmark for a lasting power of attorney that is globally recognised and portable across borders. Currently difficulties can arise when a power of attorney is not recognised or accepted in another jurisdiction which can lead to great distress, cost and inconvenience.
The GRP will serve as a model ‘best-practice’ template to governments globally when developing new legislation or reviewing existing provisions.
The STEP GRP was developed by a group of STEP’s expert members in response to concerns from practitioners about the absence of a globally recognised and consistent form of lasting power of attorney. Emily Deane TEP, Head of Government Relations at STEP, said:
“We are very proud of the hard work of our expert members who have produced a resource that could transform the lives of millions.
The challenges of an ageing population mean that increasing numbers of people across the globe need to plan for what would happen if they were to lose mental capacity. But in many countries, there is no way for them to do so, as there are no legal frameworks in place to enable this. In others, the legislation is not as robust as it should be. This variation and the lack of consistency from one country to another is putting vulnerable people at risk of financial abuse.
The STEP GRP aims to resolve this by proposing a set of guiding principles that, if adopted globally, would provide consistency and portability while protecting the rights and interests of vulnerable people.”
More information on STEP’s Global Representative Power can be found at https://www.step.org/GRP To find out about the issues and challenges associated with loss of mental capacity, STEP ran a survey in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society in June/July 2023. They received nearly 800 responses from our members in 44 countries. The results have been captured in a report, Loss of Mental Capacity: A Global Perspective.
Key findings include:
- Capacity issues and requests for advice on the issues have been increasing and will continue to increase.
- Financial abuse is increasing.
- Capacity is a complex issue for practitioners, service providers and families.
- Although the lasting/enduring power of attorney is an important tool for planning for future incapacity, there are barriers and issues to be addressed locally and through policy and legislation.
- There is a demand for cross-border recognition and portability of LPA/EPA powers.
The report makes three key recommendations, all of which require collaboration with legal associations, governmental and nongovernmental organisations, charities, financial institutions and health care professionals to formulate better and more universally accepted and applicable policy.
- Ensure global legislation is robust and consistent – They are calling on all jurisdictions globally to implement robust and consistent legal frameworks for safeguarding the financial affairs of incapable clients through powers of representation – an aim they hope to achieve with the STEP GRP.
- Safeguard against abuse – STEP will work to raise awareness of the risks among all stakeholders to ensure these are fully understood and addressed in legislation and practice globally.
- Educate about capacity and associated planning – More needs to be done to educate all stakeholders on issues related to mental capacity and associated planning. STEP can play a vital role in this, from raising public and policymaker awareness about the issues and the need for planning, to working with financial institutions and utility companies to identify and resolve their challenges, as well as supporting practitioners and allied professionals to provide education and guidance to build their knowledge in this area.