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New help for people who have to manage an account for someone else

Posted on 8 April 2013

Friendly girl, mental capacity, Pardoes Solicitors
People who need to manage a bank or building society account for someone else as a result of that person’s lack of physical or mental capacity will now be supported by a new guidance framework that has been issued to all banks and building societies in the UK.

The objective of the framework, and the complementary consumer guide which accompanies it, is for carers and relatives to have a better and more consistent experience, reducing their burden at what can be a very difficult time.     

Arranging to run an account on behalf of a loved one is a challenge faced by thousands of people every year.  Since 2007, 536,941 Lasting Powers of Attorney have been registered in the UK to manage property and affairs, which includes the management of financial matters. In 2012 there were around 800,000 people in the UK suffering from Dementia with this number forecast to rise to more than a million by 2021

Recognising that more needed to be done in this complex area, the guidance framework, has been jointly developed by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), the British Bankers Association (BBA) and the Building Societies Association (BSA), working in collaboration with the Law Society, Alzheimer’s Society, Solicitors for the Elderly and Age UK.  For the first time, banks and building societies have a consistent approach to apply to policy and process in support of third party mandate holders. 

A copy of the crystal marked guide entitled: 'Guidance for people wanting to manage a bank account for someone else' can be downloaded free of charge from a number of websites, including those of the BBA, the BSA and the Ministry of Justice.

Commenting on the launch of the guidance framework:

Alan Eccles, Public Guardian and Chief Executive of the Office of the Public Guardian, said: “This is a good example of Government, industry and the charity sector working together to fix a real problem. The guidance will help staff in banks and building societies to recognise and react appropriately to Lasting Powers of Attorney, Deputyship Orders and other third party management arrangements. Most importantly this should be a helping hand to those who need it most.”

Anthony Browne, Chief Executive of the BBA, said: “Caring for a close relative can literally be a labour of love and carries its unique responsibilities and challenges, including managing someone else’s finances.  Each situation is different and the new guidance will help banks and building societies provide the right service with the least possible stress and inconvenience to the customer at what can be a very difficult and traumatic time.”

Adrian Coles, Director-General of the BSA, said:  “We recognise that the need to operate someone else’s account often coincides with a time of emotional upheaval in a family.  Whilst many people have had a good experience with their building society or bank at this difficult time, others have not.  The objective of the consumer guide and the internal guidance for employees which accompanies it is to improve the information that is available both to staff and the public.  The end result we are pushing for is a consistently good level of service and understanding for consumers facing this issue.

Project collaborators commented:

Andrew Chidgey, Director of External Affairs at Alzheimer's Society said:

“The experience of having dementia can be overwhelming enough without the prospect of not being able to access the money that you have saved for all of your life. When people aren’t able to operate an account themselves it’s crucial that we enable a trusted family member to help to manage their finances.

“In 10 years over a million people will be living with dementia. With rising numbers, businesses need to make sure that people with the condition can continue to use their services by becoming friendlier for people with dementia. This initiative from building societies and banks across the country is a welcome commitment and we’d like to see other industries do the same.”

Law Society President Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said: “The Law Society recognised that there were unnecessary burdens placed on people at times of great stress. There were no uniform procedures in place, which resulted in stressful delays and difficulties, sometimes resulting in considerable hardship. So we were pleased to be able to work with the BBA, BSA and other partners to produce this framework, which will ease the plight of family members and solicitors who have been appointed to act on behalf of those unable to act for themselves.”

Helen McHugh, Chartered Legal Executive from Solicitors for the Elderly said: "I think this is an excellent document that has been well considered.  I hope it will help the staff in Banks and Building Societies in their training and their aim to improve services".

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