MSE News: Complaints over banks' handling of power of attorney rising

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Bank staff are adding to the distress of people registering power of attorney, says the Financial Ombudsman ...
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Complaints over banks' handling of power of attorney rising

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  • agarnett
    agarnett Posts: 1,301 Forumite
    edited 4 February 2015 at 2:51PM
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    It is about time that banks were forced to re-employ qualified senior staff locally to actually own the more difficult problems of servicing ordinary customers throughout lifetimes.

    The way banks were handling deceased customers' affairs was abysmal a few years ago, and there is not much evidence to suggest that after they started outsourcing it (a right royal cop-out) that it has got much better recently.

    The Financial Ombudsman's latest advice on Power of Attorney handling is laughably shallow, and that is quite likely because the person that approved it might well be a dyed in the wool bank staffer taking a career turn in the Ombudsman's office before they bog off back into banking with inside information on how to play against the customer and the Ombudsman.

    It is sickening how everything is described as a "process" when what is actually meant is that there is merely a set of online written instructions for a local bank staff to read when unsure how to tackle a task of this nature which they may only deal with a few times a year, and which instructions are barely a step up from the sort they used to issue for constructing flat-pack MFI furniture. You or I could read it and then sit down and advise a customer on it with an equally broad spectrum of results.

    The bank staff might read it 5 minutes before the appointment, or more likely during it, and after you've gone for a few minutes before fudging it to shift the paperwork if they are not sure.

    At least if you made a muck up of reading instructions to put together your own MFI furniture, you had to look at it yourself until you threw it out as something less than appealing.

    In 2015, local front line bank staff don't look at anything beyond the day they tackle it (or not). Every day is a new day, and yesterday's problems belong to some faceless department to whom they posted yesterday's work in the internal mail (or not).

    And don't expect today's bank managers to step in an offer any real help - they are nothing but jumped up sales supervisors willing to do whatever is the bank's bidding from one day month or year to the next. 'The complete chameleon' would be a good description of most we have now. It's a survival tactic, and an ok living can be had if you keep your bosses happy with form filling, and chivvy and discipline your staff sufficiently to make whatever targets were dreamed up last week, preferably following the set scripts and processes of course. There are no targets on well handled Powers of Attorney, I'll wager!

    I sometimes despair at how awful people like the FOS and FCA are at changing anything for the better other than scratching the surface when real problems like this become unavoidably conspicuous. No wonder it always takes years for any real change to occur, and it usually takes MSE to force it.

    Bring back proper bank managers by government mandate. Then ensure that they live or die by customer reputation and not by their reputations with sales directors.
  • Pincher
    Pincher Posts: 6,552 Forumite
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    If only you can trust people not to steal your money. When you are near the end of your life, and the relatives are circling, it would be really useful to have an independent third party to lodge your assets with.


    Obviously, there needs to be some kind of compensation/guarantee scheme, in case they run away with the money. We also need to introduce ninja assassins who track down these accountants and lawyers.


    Advert
    _____


    Ninjas wanted who will swear eternal Omerta to the House of Collection. You will seek and capture financial criminals who have absconded with client money. You will torture and coerce return of said funds, then perform ritual execution to set an example for other accountants.
  • kkgree1
    kkgree1 Posts: 328 Forumite
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    My husband and his sister have recently taken over their mother's finances, with a LPA which was registered over 10 years ago (she has Parkinsons so organised this knowing her health would deteriorate).

    It has been so hard to get banks to take the LPA seriously. Most of the time you have to physically go into a branch which isn't necessarily easy if both parties work full-time. It should be straight forward to access accounts online but this seems to be the most difficult part of the process. Fine if you want to take money out in branch but try dealing with an overseas call centre who have no idea what an LPA is. Third party internet access seems to cause them no end of problems! In the end we were so frustrated that we just use her login and card reader which you are not really meant to do. However, if you are trying to sort finances and paying care fees sometimes it's the only way!

    I know several friends with unwell/elderly parents who have gone a different route and their relative has added them as a joint account holder. This seems to be a far simpler route and something I've been recommending rather than LPAs. After our experience, I would save the money.
    Mortgage free wannabe
    Mortgage (November 2010) £135,850
    Mortgage (November 2020) £4,784
  • matelodave
    matelodave Posts: 8,614 Forumite
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    edited 5 February 2015 at 5:19PM
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    I agree with kkgree, LPA is an expensive way to get caught up in red tape.

    When my Mum was ill and had to go into residential care I couldn't get the bank to sort it out although we had already sorted LPA, they lost the documentation, wanted to see her although she was far too ill and I had to pay the care home fees myself although there was enough in my Mum's account to cover it.

    In fact it didn't get resolved until she actually died but I still couldn't recover the money that was owed to me until probate had been settled.

    If we'd just sorted out a joint account rather than paying for the Power of Attorney there would have been no problems at all.
    Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large numbers
  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,104 Forumite
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    It's not quite true to say that with a joint account there are no problems.

    For one thing, if the bank learn that one party to a joint account has lost capacity / ability to deal with their affairs, then they can - and do - freeze the account to protect the one who's lost capacity.

    Also, if anything happens to the 'other' person - divorce, debt, claiming means-tested benefits - then the joint accounts are reckoned to belong equally.

    There is a way of adding another signatory who isn't named on the account, but I'm not sure all banks would be up for that either.
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • Gingernutty
    Gingernutty Posts: 3,769 Forumite
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    I suspect a large portion of the problem is training and experience.

    Once upon a time, banking was a highly regarded professional career, where bank staff had a complete training system, dealing with legal as well as financial business.

    Now, many staff are effectively in sales, taught just enough to get around the computer system and upsell at the counters.

    Before the days of Deputyship, I was a Court of Protection appointed Receiver for my Uncle, staff had to refer to a flow chart in the back office to set up a Receivership account.

    It even told them to feel for the official seal on the court documents.

    Even then, many banks misunderstood the nature of what I was requesting and the bank I eventually opted for didn't recognise a difference between commercial and domestic receivership.

    I had to have a business banking account complete with account fees.
    :huh: Don't know what I'm doing, but doing it anyway... :huh:
  • maevemac
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    I registered an EPA for my father in December. Went into Barclays Bank, had an appointment, to do the paperwork. I am now dealing with their complaints department about all the mistakes made. The latest is a return of the cheque I wrote to the care home because it was 'not signed in accordance with the mandate'. In other words they haven't registered my signature on the account. had to go to the local branch to do another signature and now need to get £30 back from Barclays as the care home charge this for unpaid cheques. No point calling the help centre - it is based outside this country and the staff there, including the managers, has no idea what a POA is.
  • Mav6215
    Mav6215 Posts: 81 Forumite
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    My experience with Barclays in respect to my mother's LPA has been, on the whole, very good. Even the off-shore staff have understood what the PoA is and have been quite helpful. Sometimes the accent and language barriers have got in the way so now, when I have a more complicated, enquiry I ask to be put through to a UK-based centre.

    I also bank with Barclays and I can access my mother's accounts online through my login which is handy as I can do almost everything I can do on my own accounts. I can switch between the two with ease. But I want to be able to view her statements from CloudIT but can't unless either through my mother's own login or going to the branch to set things up so I can do through my login. I also need a card marked PoA but have to go into the branch to sort that out, too.

    My mother also has saving accounts at Nationwide. In order that I could transfer from those to her Barclays accounts to pay bills, etc I went into the branch to set up a current account for this purpose. Unfortunately they forgot to add that I had PoA to that one account which only came to light when I had to make a call to question a transaction. Thankfully it was sorted quickly and a replacement card with PoA printed on it was received a few days later. I got £50 for the hassle :)

    I've also had to deal with Halifax and Santander and, overall, the experience has been good.
  • agarnett
    agarnett Posts: 1,301 Forumite
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    Interesting take on things, Mav6215 !

    So you find the banks are broadly manageable in assisting in your sole conduct of your wheelchair bound mother's financial affairs using your sole LPA, and even allow you with a bit of perseverance to use the latest fangled Barclays online gismos (CloudIT?? Forgive me, but whatever does one use that for in running an aged parent's bank account? :p).

    Meantime your brother and sister in law who live with her are (a) unapproachable and (b) untrustworthy ? Boo, hiss!

    I can't help feeling, however, that POAs and the like were intended more for protecting the elderly from the confusing world, not for using as weapons by clever siblings with no income of their own wishing to outmanoeuvre less cleaver siblings in order to restrict the outgos so they don't get used up ?

    Sometimes the world seems a bit upside down, doesn't it? :p

    Some might say no wonder the banks are not falling over themselves to help open up easy banking channels when feuding families are making it an absolute minefield.

    I must say that in order to completely obviate the situation were siblings cannot trust each other, no POA should ever be granted to one of them unless all siblings agree. And if they can't agree but a POA is still needed, then the OPG should rule that the POA requires all to agree and if they don't, the OPG should take over immediately.

    "No need to get a solicitor involved ;)" did you say in another thread? Or forgive me, maybe that was just to save money on creating copies by getting your mother to certify several photocopies of the original (solicitor) registered copy?

    You also said you'd liberally sprinkled those POA copies around several different financial institutions and that some even accepted them (certified copies?) by email?

    Sounds like you've got quite a grip and created lots of flexibility.

    Well done! (I think).
  • Mav6215
    Mav6215 Posts: 81 Forumite
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    agarnett wrote: »
    Interesting take on things, Mav6215 !
    (CloudIT?? Forgive me, but whatever does one use that for in running an aged parent's bank account? :p).

    My mother still wants and gets the paper statements so rather than try to hunt for them when needed it would be easier if I can see the online version when reconciling her statements with the accounts records I keep on the PC.
    agarnett wrote: »
    I must say that in order to completely obviate the situation were siblings cannot trust each other, no POA should ever be granted to one of them unless all siblings agree. And if they can't agree but a POA is still needed, then the OPG should rule that the POA requires all to agree and if they don't, the OPG should take over immediately.

    It must depend on what the donor's wishes are if the donor has trust issues with any of the siblings. If the donor chooses just one attorney why should the OPG object as long as he/she has capacity at the time the LPA is made?
    agarnett wrote: »
    "No need to get a solicitor involved ;)" did you say in another thread? Or forgive me, maybe that was just to save money on creating copies by getting your mother to certify several photocopies of the original (solicitor) registered copy?

    Why pay for something unnecessarily while the donor still has capacity?
    agarnett wrote: »
    You also said you'd liberally sprinkled those POA copies around several different financial institutions and that some even accepted them (certified copies?) by email?

    No I didn't. I sent copies to those institutions that my mother requested me to or I suggested as she was no longer wanting to deal with them. All the financial institutions wanted to see the original or a certified copy which they then photocopied for their records. I only ever take or post a certified copy. The utility companies, council and ISP were happy with a pdf file by email.
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