Banks are fail­ing their cus­tomers at a crit­i­cal time

Writes Lind­say Tay­lor, So­lic­i­tor – Wills, Trusts and Pro­bate, Cof­fin Mew.

Hampshire Life - - Meon Valley Man -

We have heard the mantra that mak­ing a Last­ing Power of At­tor­ney (LPA) is sound fi­nan­cial plan­ning. The al­ter­na­tive is for your fam­ily to ap­ply to the Court of Pro­tec­tion should you lose ca­pac­ity to han­dle your own af­fairs, which is not swift or cheap, when time may be of the essence and lack of im­me­di­ate fund­ing could have se­vere con­se­quences.

What hap­pens should you make pro­vi­sion for such an event, but your bank stands in the way of your at­tor­neys ac­cess­ing your ac­counts?

“In 2018 we heard about Tony Ven­ner’s seven month bat­tle as his wife’s at­tor­ney to get ac­cess to her Bar­clays’ ac­count, de­spite a strong LPA. The bank’s de­lay meant Tony spent the last few months of his wife’s life fight­ing a bat­tle that should never have hap­pened, although even­tu­ally he got ac­cess with the help of his lawyer.”It would be hoped that banks and other fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions had taken a note of this fail­ing. In­stead, a May 2018 poll by Which? re­veals that a fifth of at­tor­neys have ex­pe­ri­enced pro­found dif­fi­culty in reg­is­ter­ing and us­ing LPAs.

As a mem­ber of Solic­i­tors for the El­derly I have al­ways strongly ad­vo­cated the setup and use of LPAs. Sadly, I have also been called upon to sup­port at­tor­neys and those who orig­i­nally com­pleted LPAs (the donor) in dif­fi­cul­ties they have faced in how banks process these le­gal doc­u­ments. Donors with full men­tal ca­pac­ity to han­dle their own fi­nan­cial af­fairs, but who have strug­gled due to phys­i­cal frail­ties can be­come locked out of their ac­counts due to the au­to­matic as­sump­tion of men­tal in­ca­pac­ity where there is regis­tra­tion of the LPA.

Build­ing So­ci­eties ap­pear to be the most user friendly when reg­is­ter­ing pow­ers of at­tor­ney with Coven­try, York­shire and Na­tion­wide lead­ing the way with ‘good’ rat­ings of 75%, 85% and 76% re­spec­tively.

At the other end of the scale HSBC, Co-op and York­shire Banks re­ceived ‘poor’ rat­ings of 27%, 27% and 32% re­spec­tively, when at­tor­neys were asked to re­count their ex­pe­ri­ences.

One of the main com­plaints dur­ing the regis­tra­tion process is the in­con­sis­tent ad­vice given. The re­sults of the Which? poll also found that banks with a ‘poor’ rat­ing in cus­tomer ser­vice when han­dling power of at­tor­ney reg­is­tra­tions such as HSBC and TSB did not have a ded­i­cated team.

Much of the is­sue ap­pears to be with in­con­sis­tent ap­proaches to the regis­tra­tion process, lead­ing to com­mu­ni­ca­tion break­down. Per­haps it is time for fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions to agree and fol­low a stan­dard pro­ce­dure, much as LPAs are stan­dard pre­scribed forms them­selves.

It is vi­tal to en­sure that cus­tomers’ ac­counts are safe­guarded. How­ever, a prop­erly ex­e­cuted LPA, par­tic­u­larly one which has been com­pleted with the as­sis­tance of a so­lic­i­tor, has the main goal of en­sur­ing im­me­di­ate ac­cess to and man­age­ment of an in­di­vid­ual’s fi­nances. Ar­ti­fi­cial bar­ri­ers and lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion can only up­set peo­ple at what it al­ready a dif­fi­cult time.

“A prop­erly ex­e­cuted LPA en­sures im­me­di­ate

and proper ac­cess to and man­age­ment of an

in­di­vid­ual’s fi­nances.”

For guid­ance through the com­plex­i­ties of set­ting up an LPA; speak­ing to a so­lic­i­tor who spe­cialises in the­ses ar­eas can usu­ally help enor­mously. A pro­fes­sional can en­sure not only that the forms are com­pleted cor­rectly, but that the donor and at­tor­neys have the proper ad­vice and guid­ance needed to fa­cil­i­tate a smooth process when the doc­u­ment is needed.

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