May 26, 2016

Many institutions lack basic knowledge of Power of Attorney arrangements.

Recent figures confirm that a growing number of people are taking out Lasting Powers of Attorney to ensure that someone is able to take control of their financial affairs in the event they lose mental capacity.

But there is growing evidence that financial institutions and utilities companies are often creating obstacles for those trying to carry out their duties.

Part of the problem is that many staff at organisations such as banks and building societies have a poor understanding of how Powers of Attorney work in practice and this tends to lead to lengthy delays when individuals try to access their loved one’s finances.

A recent investigation carried out by Money Mail found that it is all too common for families to have to spend months trying to access an account.

Tony Venner told reporters that it had taken Barclays seven months to recognise that he was in charge of his wife Joan’s affairs after she developed dementia.

Other cases have seen banks carrying out apparently arbitrary checks, ordering individuals to complete complicated paperwork and, in some cases, calling the customer who has lost capacity to check and approve transactions.

Justine Clowes, the chair of Solicitors for the Elderly (SfE), said: “Creating a Lasting Power of Attorney can be one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your future.

“The process should be straightforward and access to money and management of accounts should be granted with ease.

“Unfortunately, insensitivity and ‘computer says no’ processes can cause delays and make an already fraught situation all the more upsetting.”

For legal advice on Power of Attorney please contact Tony Millson and Deanna Hurst in Royds’ Private Client team.

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