Do you struggle to get financial institutions to recognise powers of attorney?

Having recognised that a number of financial institutions are failing to recognise powers of attorney at the most crucial time, when a loved one has lost their mental capacity, the Financial Ombudsman has issued, via their website, guidance and tips for banks and consumers; together with information about to handle difficult situations.

The Ombudsmans’ tips for banks include helping them to understand what a power of attorney is, when they might be used and the issues encountered which could lead to complaints against the bank, such as delays, lost documents and incorrect or missing information on the computer system. There is a real emphasis on helping the banks to understand the stress that a person registering a power of attorney could be under, particularly due to the circumstances that have led up to the necessity to have the power registered.

Their tips for consumers assist in helping the Donee (the person given the power) to understand what the banks’ requirements may be to enable the power to be registered.

On the website, Chief Ombudsman, Caroline Wayman comments,

“Sometimes dealing with issues that arise when someone is losing their mental capacity can be distressing for everyone involved. But in recent years, it’s become apparent that many of the problems the ombudsman sees are about misunderstandings — which mean they could be avoided.

“We realised that we could help staff working in bank branches by explaining in simple terms what a power of attorney is and what they need to do if they’re asked to register one. For customers too, it’s useful to know what your rights are — and when it’s only fair that the bank seeks help itself about the right thing to do for everyone involved.

“So we’ve created some simple tips for both bank staff and people who hold a power of attorney. Following the advice should help prevent most complaints from happening.

“Of course, some power of attorney problems will continue to be very difficult to sort out. So it’s vital that people know the ombudsman and the Office of the Public Guardian are there to help.

“But in most situations we believe that by simply listening and talking through the options, bank staff can help support their customers and relatives acting for them deal with dementia and other problems affecting independence or mental capacity.”

The Ombudsman recognises that they cannot assist in all cases, with some cases being more appropriately dealt with by the Office of the Public Guardian and/or the Courts, but they do hope that with their assistance there will be less complaints around the failure of banks to recognise powers of attorney.

Are you having issues registering powers of attorney with financial institutions? If so, please contact the Financial Ombudsman who will be happy to help.

Today's Wills and Probate