Penny Wright considers the impact of the new guidance “Supporting customers who do not make their own decisions” from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and UK Regulators’ Network (UKRN). This relates to managing the financial affairs for an incapacitated person and the use of a Enduring or Lasting Powers of Attorney or a deputyship order.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (or the older-style Enduring Power of Attorney) is a document signed by a person when they are still able to do so. They name one or more people (called “attorneys”) who will have authority to make decisions on their behalf in case of incapacity. For example, incapacity due to an illness such as dementia or stroke or as a result of an accident.
Enduring Powers of Attorney were abolished in 2007 but pre-existing Enduring Powers of Attorney, signed before then, are still valid.
When a person loses mental capacity, but has not already made an Enduring Power of Attorney or a Lasting Power of Attorney, then an application must be made to the Court for authority to manage their affairs. Typically the person appointed as deputy would be their spouse, partner or other relative, or a professional adviser such as a solicitor.
Deputies are more closely supervised by the Court than attorneys, and there are often annual costs on top of the initial application fees. So, generally, it is more expensive and time-consuming to obtain a deputy appointment, compared with the cost of setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney.
To avoid the difficulties and expense of having a deputy appointed for you in future, it is essential to make a Lasting Power of Attorney. We can help with this process, providing face-to-face tailored advice either from our offices in Newbury, Thatcham and Maidenhead, or if needed, at a home visit.
The guidance that can be found on the UKRN website should make things easier for attorneys and deputies to deal with utility companies, banks and the financial services sector. Until now, different organisations have followed their own internal policies. This meant that attorneys and deputies sometimes had to navigate a minefield of different requirements, when acting on behalf of an incapacitated person.
The guidance aims to provide a consistent set of requirements, to which the different organisations will all adhere. It contains information designed to enable staff at banks and other organisations understand their duties and avoid over-complicating things for attorneys and deputies.