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Financial Services Vulnerability Taskforce publishes report detailing new standards for vulnerable customers

Having a Property and Financial Lasting Power of Attorney enables the person or people you have chosen to pay bills, open and close bank accounts, sell your property and make investments when you no longer wish to or are unable to make decisions for yourself.

Your attorneys can make decisions for you as soon as the Lasting Power of Attorney is registered, both when you have mental capacity and when you lack mental capacity unless you put a restriction in the Lasting Power of Attorney.

If you haven’t put a Lasting Power of Attorney in place and you no longer have the mental capacity to make decisions, your assets may be frozen.  Without a Lasting Power of Attorney, no one has permission to manage your affairs.  An application will need to be made to the Court of Protection for a “Deputy” to be appointed and this may not necessarily be someone you would have wished. This can be an expensive and lengthy process with Court fees needing to be paid annually. We have a dedicated Court of Protection team who can help and guide you through this process.

Banks have a legal obligation to acknowledge Powers of Attorney, however, some Attorneys come up against staff at banks who can be unaware of the rights that a Lasting Power of Attorney gives them.  The inconsistencies can be relating to the documentation that the bank requests to see or requesting the elderly or vulnerable to visit the branch in person.  They may also ask for documents from the Court of Protection.  This can lead to delays in processing transactions and distress for family members.

The British Bankers Association has recently published a report by the Financial Services Vulnerability Taskforce which outlines best practice recommendations for the industry ensuring that customers who are vulnerable are treated not only fairly, but with empathy and sensitivity to their circumstances.

The report sets out a number of specific recommendations, including that financial service firms:

  • Enable customers to give ‘one-stop notice’ of their personal circumstances within the same organisation eg. Where a customer may have several relationships with a UK financial savings brand (current and savings accounts, mortgage etc.)
  • Make it easy for family and friends to support a customer who is vulnerable, including enabling a friend or family member to help manage their money at their request.
  • Give frontline and specialist teams the flexibility to take action that may be outside normal procedures if this is right for the customer in vulnerable circumstances – bearing in mind the need to treat all customers fairly.

BBA Chief Executive Anthony Browne said: “These recommendations will, for example, make it easier for friends or family to help manage a customer’s finances at their request, as well as ensuring those coming to terms with difficult personal circumstances only have to disclose it once.  This will help to ensure that customers in vulnerable circumstances receive the service that they deserve.”

To see the full report, please click here.

At Moore & Tibbits, we can help with all aspects of creating a Lasting Power of Attorney - from choosing an attorney and deciding what type of Lasting Power of Attorney is right for you to correctly registering the documentation with the Office of the Public Guardian.

We also have a specialist team dealing with Court of Protection Applications and often are requested to act as a Deputy or Attorney.

If you have any query regarding a Lasting Power of Attorney or Court of Protection application,  please call us for free initial advice on 01926 491181

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