Consumer expert Jessica Gorst-Williams explains how to make registering power of attorney with a bank as quick and painless as possible.
I have lasting power of attorney and need to register it with a bank. I do feel very emotional about it all and find it difficult to think clearly. In order that this is an easy process, which clearly such things often are not, what do I need to do? RH
Given the often distressing circumstances in which this is being done kindness and forbearance should be the order of the day for bank or building society staff.
Sadly you cannot expect this and need to approach it as a no nonsense chore to be attended to with as little trouble as possible.
You live in England and this April new guidance for consumers in England and Wales were issued by various bodies under ‘Guidance for people wanting to manage a bank account for someone else’.
See www.bba.org.uk although there have been difficulties accessing it via this British Bankers’ Association website which I have highlighted and the website has now been fixed. You can also call BBA orderline on 0207 216 8801 and it will send you one.
DO I HAVE TO GO INTO A BRANCH
To make the process more seamless this is the best option. However it may be possible to do register a power of attorney with a bank or building society by writing in.
WHAT IF THERE IS MORE THAN ONE ATTORNEY. DO WE NEED TO GO IN TOGETHER
Every bank or building society has its quirks but Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY.L - news) , which covers a range of banks including Halifax and Lloyds TSB, says the different attorneys can attend different branches of the bank the account is with. They don’t need to go in together.
WHAT PAPERWORK DO I NEED
Banks and building societies differ one to another but as a rule of thumb you will need proof of your name and address and evidence that you are entitled to act for the account holder.
This will include the full, original Lasting Power of Attorney document stamped by the Office of the Public Guardian or a certified copy. Then some identification from a range of options ideally with photo identification such as a current passport or a current driving licence of all attorneys to be registered.
Other documents might be pension or benefit letters or your utility bills or council tax bill, a letter from HM Revenue & Customs,
CHECK ON THE PHONE WITH THE PROVIDER WHAT IS NEEDED BEFORE GOING
Make sure you get through to the section of the bank or building society geared up to know about such things. Ordinary staff answering the phone may not.
CHECK THE OPENING HOURS
Also find out the opening hours. Some branches are closing earlier than they used to. Get there in good time to go through the process.
POWER OF ATTORNEY REGISTRATION FORM
The power of attorney registration form or mandate itself will also need to be signed by all the attorney or attorneys if there is more than one. This will be provided by the bank or building society.
IS IT DIFFERENT FOR AN ATTORNEY WHO WANTS TO OPEN AN ACCOUNT ON BEHALF OF A DONOR WHO IS NOT AN EXISTING CUSTOMER
Doing this will require extra id to confirm the identity of the donor as well.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR THE ARRANGEMENT TO BE PUT IN PLACE
Lloyds Banking Group, for example, says it should take seven days after the person comes into the branch, for instance, for the power of attorney to be registered on the relevant accounts.
DEBIT CARD CATCHES FOR THOSE WITH POWER OF ATTORNEY
A financial power of attorney allows the person or person named in it to access the money and financial records of someone else who is probably incapacitated. It should be a level playing field with the same services as the real owner of the money had but it doesn’t always work like that.
It is also the case that a power of attorney may not enable all bank services on the account. One reader wrote in about his wife’s account with Santander (Madrid: SAN.MC - news) . Now (Other OTC: NWPN - news) the effects of dementia had taken their toll. Santander however only offers card facilities to account owners and doesn’t provide those facilities to power of attorneys. This was highly inconvenient but all I managed to achieve for this reader was a donation of £85s worth of wall art to the care nursing home.
I have pointed out to Santander that to my mind this is discrimination. It does seem to be taking this view on board. I understand it is in the process of looking into how it can change things to make them more user friendly in these circumstances. Meanwhile not being able to use a debit card on a Santander account operated by power of attorney is something to be aware of.
OTHER BANKS MAY PROVIDE DEBIT CARDS
Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) , for example, does provide debit cards for such power of attorneys but says there may be restrictions where there is more than one attorney. Lloyds Banking Group says it provides cards as if it were dealing with the customer.
ONLINE ACCOUNT PROBLEMS
More banks than used to are allowing power of attorneys to use online banking when they are dealing with an incapacitated person’s financial affairs. Recently, for example, Santander started to allow this which it hadn’t done in the past. However there are restrictions with some providers.
WILL AN OLD STYLE ENDURING POWER OF ATTORNEY DOCUMENT STILL COUNT
There are exceptions but usually it will as long as it predates October 2007 when EPAs were replaced with LPAs. It will need to have been signed by then by the person it is on behalf of and the person or people who will act as attorney. It doesn’t need to have been registered with the Office of Public Guardian then but can be later when the need arises.
WHAT IF SOMEONE BECOMES INCAPACITATED AND THERE IS NO POWER OF ATTORNEY
Contact the Court of Protection about becoming a personal deputy. This can probably be done by post. See www.gov.uk .
SOURCES OF GUIDANCE FOR SETTING UP A POWER OF ATTORNEY
The money advice service www.themoneyadviceservice.org.uk telephone 0300 500 5000 tends to be a good source of information about such matters.
Lasting power of attorney forms and/or a pamphlet with ‘Guidance for people who want to make a lasting power of attorney for property and financial affairs’ is available online from the Office of Public Guardian via www.justice.gov.uk .
See also www.gov.uk and put office of public guardian in the search box. The telephone number is 0300 456 0300. Also see www.alzheimers.org.uk 0300 222 1122 and www.ageuk.org.uk 0800 169 6565. Citizens Advice could be a good source of information as well.