Everything you must know to protect your family’s legacy: Taking charge of a loved one’s affairs

Applications for power of attorney has hit a record 591,000 a year.

This vital document allows someone to make financial decisions on your behalf.

In the UK, someone is diagnosed with dementia every three minutes.

Experts say every adult should set up power of attorney almost regardless of age.

Banks have pledged to improve the way they treat families who help vulnerable relatives with their money as soaring numbers of people take charge of a loved one’s affairs.

Applications for lasting power of attorney — a vital document that allows someone to make financial decisions on your behalf — has hit a record 591,000 a year.

More families are realising you need this in place well before it’s needed — or face chaos down the line.
Experts are now saying that every adult should set up power of attorney as soon as possible, almost regardless of their age.

In the UK, someone is diagnosed with dementia every three minutes, while more than 100,000 people are affected by strokes each year.

If these people have not appointed someone to look after their finances before they lose the ability to do so, families face a lengthy and often costly battle for permission via the Court of Care and Protection.

Power of attorney is also vital if you suffer a debilitating accident or fall seriously ill.

Around 2.5 million people in the UK have appointed an attorney, with 156,000 joining them each month — double the number three years ago. Banks last week launched a code of conduct to support them.

As part of our Looking After Your Legacy campaign, Money Mail has repeatedly highlighted how banks frequently let down these customers.

Staff often didn’t understand how power of attorney worked or what it entitled someone to do.
Under new guidelines from trade body the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), staff will be trained to support customers to minimise stress.

Specialist teams will be set up to deal with complex paperwork, and banks have promised to stop requesting the same documents again and again.

They will also remove restrictions that prevent power of attorney customers banking online or by phone.
When customers ask how to register their power of attorney document, they will be given clear and simple instructions.

Banks will also investigate how they might let families appoint someone temporarily to look after their finances in an emergency.

So far, eight banks have signed up, including Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, HSBC, Nationwide, NatWest and Santander. The changes should be in place by next May.

 

Power of attorney is just as important as making a will, if not more. In the UK, someone is diagnosed with dementia every three minutes. This is about what will happen to your money when you are alive. If you don’t have one, your family may not be able to access your finances to pay for your care.

The system isn’t perfect. But dementia can come on suddenly. If you have a stroke or accident, you can lose your mental capacity in a day. So it’s vital you are prepared.

Martin Lewis

Money Saving Expert

At HMW Legacy Planning, we specialise in Legacy Planning, making sure you have the right level of Planning and Protection to make sure your wishes are carried out.

Contact us at [email protected] for a free, no-obligation consultation.