Banks, Dementia and Lasting Powers

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

If you were up at 5.45am on Wednesday 12th April you may have heard an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live with the Head of Retail Banking for the UK and Europe at HSBC, Ms. Francesca McDonagh. The bank together with the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Scotland were launching a campaign for a better understanding of dementia, its impacts and the role that banks can play to assist those affected. In particular the interview looked at the benefits of having a Power of Attorney in place.

Some figures

1/3 of the population will be impacted by dementia with a new diagnosis every 3 minutes.

850,000 are currently living with dementia and of those, a third live alone. This means that it’s not always obvious who should be looked to for decisions regarding their care or how their finances should be managed.

HSBC receive 3,000 phone calls per month regarding Powers of Attorney.

There is more about this initiative, which aims to support businesses and the financial world make dementia friendly changes at Alzheimer’s Website

If we can offer one piece of advice regarding dementia and its effects we would recommend the making of a Lasting Power of Attorney (an LPA).

Lasting Powers of Attorney

An LPA is a Government approved document that enables an individual, known as a ‘donor’ to give certain powers to another person or persons. The person who receives this power is known as an ‘attorney’. The attorney then has the authority to make certain kinds decisions on the donor’s behalf.
There are two types of LPAs. The first is for Health and Welfare and the second is for Property and Finance.

Both LPAs are distinct – an attorney appointed under a Health and Welfare LPA cannot walk into the donor’s bank and close an account or transfer money and similarly an attorney under a Property and Finance LPA cannot speak with a donor’s doctors about their treatment plan or care home selection. It is often the case that a donor makes both, choosing the same attorney – however this is the donor’s choice.

Putting an LPA in place

The process of creating an LPA is relatively simple but there is a very big requirement. For someone to make an LPA they must have the mental capacity to do so. The diagnosis of dementia does not mean that the person lacks capacity but it does mean that a solicitor is more likely to want to get a capacity assessment from the donor’s GP or health professional. If this report says they have capacity then we would be able to go ahead; if it says they don’t have capacity then there are still options available but these would be matters we would discuss at an appointment.
Making an LPA involves us taking the donor’s instructions about what they want and why they want it. We would provide advice on the donor’s choice of attorney and advice on the merits of each LPA for their circumstances. We would take the donor through the whole process and ensure that the documents are fully compliant. Once the donor is happy we would have the documents duly executed ready for registration.

Registration

Whilst the process of drafting and completing an LPA is not overly complicated or time consuming, anyone considering an LPA must take into account that for the document to actually be usable it needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. While we can complete an LPA in a matter of days the registration process will nearly always take far longer.

Our experience is that the registration process usually takes a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks. Therefore if you have a concern for yourself or a loved one then our recommendation is to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

Court fee

Some good news is that since 1st April 2017 the registration fee for an LPA has reduced from £110 to £82. The Office of the Public Guardian have said that this fee reduction is due to the popularity of LPAs which has enabled the registration process to become more streamlined – however it will probably still take them 6-8 weeks.

If you have concerns about dementia then you can call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 11 22

The Private Client department here at Hanne & Co. has the expertise and know-how to assist you in any matters concerning decision making and estate planning.

Michael Brierley – Solicitor