What does Marvel Comic’s huge $773,300,000 movie franchise Guardians of the Galaxy have in common with the Office of the Public Guardian, whose expenditure (2017/2018) on Lasting Powers of Attorney is a numerically comparable £770,995,000? Daniel Mattess explains below…
First, they share the name Guardian, which the Cambridge dictionary defines as “a person who has the right and responsibility of taking care of someone who cannot take care of himself or herself”.
Second, the rights and responsibilities of the caped, colourful and creatively heroic Guardians of the Galaxy are not so very far removed from the unsung staff heroes of the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) whose job as an executive agency sponsored by the Ministry of Justice it is to protect those, commonly elderly, people who cannot take care of themselves.
Third, the OPG performs this heroic task by registering Lasting Powers of Attorney: important legal documents where one or more Attorneys are appointed to support those who need help making decisions or can no longer make decisions for themselves. The OPG also takes action where there are concerns about an Attorney, including to investigate where there is suspicion of abuse by or towards an Attorney.
Anyone whose mental capacity is impaired, perhaps by illness, injury or age, are vulnerable to abuse or neglect due to the actions of other people. This vulnerability knows no boundaries, including recently for a man by the name of Stan Lee. For those familiar with the Marvel Comics’ phenomenon, Stan needs no introduction. For the rest of us, Stan was born in 1922, co-created the likes of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther and Scarlet Witch and became a creative leader for Marvel.
A person very close to Stan, his business manager Keya Morgan, has been made recent headlines having been arrested and charged on suspicion of theft, forgery, fraud and abuse of an elderly person (Stan was 95 at his death in November 2018). Mr Morgan had no official power to act or assist Stan, and therefore Stan’s vulnerability was exacerbated by the lack of appropriate legal documentation to safeguard him. The level of financial loss to Stan and his estate is suspected to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For any vulnerable person, their family or their estate, any form of abuse, including that resulting in financial loss, can result in severe emotional distress.
So, whilst the many comic superhuman heroes Stan helped create during his life have wowed and inspired millions over the years, none of them were able to protect him at a time when he arguably needed them the most. For someone like Stan, a Lasting Power of Attorney and the registration of it at the Office of the Public Guardian could have made all the difference.
In the UK, making Lasting Powers of Attorney is likely to be one of the most important things you do, so if the time should ever come that you need help making decisions, or need decisions made for you, real-life protection is available with the Office of the Public Guardian.
SO Legal Solicitors Eastbourne – 01323 407555
SO Legal Solicitors Brighton & Hove – 01273 069920
SO Legal Solicitors Notting Hill – 0203 9677700