The Office of the Public Guardian (‘OPG’) – the part of the government that provides support to deputies and guardians – has published new guidance to assist financial institutions (and utility companies) in how to deal with customers whose decisions are made for them under a Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’) or Deputy Court Order.
LPAs and Deputyship Orders are used to allow the Attorney or Deputy to make decisions and manage the finances of somebody who no longer has sufficient ability to do so themselves. As these enable the Attorney or Deputy to access all assets belonging to that person, is clearly important for financial institutions to be extremely careful when dealing with Attorneys and Deputies, to protect the security of their customers.
However there are reports that these companies are being inconsistent in how they deal with Attorneys and Deputies, and the documentation authorizing the Attorneys and Deputies to act.
The guidance sets out the need for companies to write clear and precise policies for accepting legal documents so both attorneys and deputies, and staff at the companies, know what to expect and what they need to do. This should help to make the process smoother and more efficient whilst also maintaining the current safeguards.
The guidance addresses one of the most common complaints of attorneys when dealing with financial institutions, that they are often requested to provide the original LPA or Deputyship Order. The OPG has clarified that there is no legal requirement for companies to require sight of the original documents and, as attorneys and deputies will likely be dealing with a number of companies at one time, doing so would be overly time consuming and inconvenient. Acceptable alternatives include photocopies, scanned images and certified copies of the original documents. Ultimately, the companies can decide what they are prepared to accept dependent on the level of risk involved, but they should publish a clear policy setting out what level of documentation they will require.
Guidance is also available from the OPG for attorneys and deputies in relation to investing a donor’s money and in relation to how they should make decisions.
Acting as an attorney or deputy can be a demanding and sometimes confusing situation, both in relation to understanding how to act properly, and also in dealing with the financial institutions.
At Jordans Solicitors we can provide advice and guidance to attorneys and deputies in relation to their duties and responsibilities, and to assist them throughout the role. We can also provide assistance if you want to put in place a LPA, or you need to apply for a deputyship order on behalf of somebody else.