A Power of Attorney is often essential when a loved one loses mental capacity or is vulnerable is some way, as it is often the case that they are no longer able to make their own decisions.
This can be a distressing and stressful time for all concerned. However, if a person has a Power of Attorney (POA) already in place it can help ease these pressures.
A POA is a legal authority given by one person to one or more individuals allowing them to handle another's affairs. It is a relatively simple process to set up and allows the nominated individual the power to deal with everything from financial and property affairs (known as a continuing POA) to decisions about health and personal welfare (known as a welfare POA) or even both.
With the number of POAs registered in Scotland increasing dramatically in recent years, they are becoming ever more commonplace.
However, the Financial Ombudsman Service has revealed that banks and building societies often fail to fully understand what a POA is and how it works.
In some cases this can lead to unnecessary delays in a family being able to manage their loved one's finances. A potential consequence of this could be unpaid care home fees.
It is increasingly the case that bank staff do not understand the different types of POA or how a delay in processing them can have a significant impact on their clients.
Around 35 complaints are being made to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) each month, which deals with disputes between consumers and financial firms.
The complaints include documents being lost, firms wrongly insisting on the original Power of Attorney document and firms refusing to accept a certified copy.
This surge in disapproval at the way in which POAs are being dealt with has led to the FOS calling for banks and building societies to improve staff training to help ensure that POAs are dealt with efficiently and properly.
While there are obviously some occasions where it is absolutely correct for banks to deliberate over POA requests, such as to establish whether someone is attempting to abuse his position of power, the industry needs to improve its knowledge to ensure clients get the best service possible. If you'd like to discuss your individual circumstances and power of attorney further, contact a member of our team.