A Lasting Power of Attorney gives someone you trust the ability to manage your financial affairs for you, should you become unable. It allows you to nominate one or more Attorneys who can help if you are incapacitated or at any other time with your permission.
This essential legal document which is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) can save on time and stress, not to mention thousands in unnecessary legal and court fees. However, despite its official status, Attorneys can find banks less than helpful when it comes to using the document. Many report having to ‘jump through hoops’ to carry out simple tasks because of red tape at the bank.
Times columnist Janice Turner tried to use the LPA that her mother had created for her to deal with £300 of fraud on her mother’s account. On calling up and reaching a general switchboard, she was told that despite having delivered the LPA weeks ago, it had not been registered with them yet (a formality that most banks require following registration of the document with the OPG) and therefore the bank would only speak to her mother. On explaining that her mother was ‘busy dying’, she was told to visit her local branch – which shut years ago. Asking if she could make an appointment with some branch further afield, she was told she could not have the branch phone number, so she drove to the remote branch to try and resolve matters, paying for three hours of parking.
She then sat and waited for the very woman who had processed her mother’s LPA originally. The woman was finally connected to the fraud office just as Ms Turner’s parking ran out and so invited Ms Turner to call her. The number provided led to the same general switchboard that she had reached on her first call.
Ms Turner’s experience is not unusual, particularly with the rapid closure of local banks and building societies. Banks have cited the rapid increase in online and mobile banking coupled with a rapid decline in use of physical branches as the reason for the widespread closures. A total of 1080 branches were closed or marked for closure in 2018 and 2019 according to Which?
However, despite the initial hurdles that Attorneys may experience, having a Lasting Power of Attorney document in place is still advisable. Without this, accounts cannot be accessed without a court order (called a Deputyship Order) and may even be frozen whilst months are spent dealing with the application. Deputyship Orders are expensive in comparison with LPAs and further, because they are obtained after someone has lost capacity, that person does not get to choose who is given the order.
It is quicker and cheaper to make a Lasting Power of Attorney while you have mental capacity and everyone aged 18 or over should have this simple document. If you are an Attorney for an elderly friend or relative, it is advisable to visit the bank and go through their registration process as soon as the LPA is registered and well before the document is needed. Typically they will want to see the registered LPA together with ID and proof of address for you and the ‘donor’ (the person who has made the LPA) unless the bank has these already.
Banks do not accept simple photocopies of the LPA – instead, you’ll need to take:
- The original LPA or a copy which the OPG has stamped every page of; or
- A copy signed on every page by the either the donor, a solicitor or a notary to confirm that it is a true copy of the original LPA (see here for more info).