As new guidance emerges around the way Attorneys and Court of Protection Deputies should be dealt with by banks, financial institutions and utilities companies, Court of Protection specialist Dan Snedden explains what the changes mean.
What has happened?
The Office of the Public Guardian (‘OPG’) has issued guidance to financial services and utility providers regarding how they should deal with customers who have a Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’), Enduring Power of Attorney (‘EPA’) or a Deputy Court Order in place.
Why is this important?
This guidance is very welcome. As any Attorney or Deputy will have found, whether acting in a personal or professional capacity, responses to contact with these institutions have not always been consistent.
Initial access can be difficult and frustrating, explanations and documents have to be provided repeatedly, and at the end of the day the impression is often that the institutions just don’t ‘get it’.
Why has this happened?
This situation may now change, thanks to the action of the OPG who have acted in consultation with the UK Regulators Network (UKRN) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and sector regulators including Ofcom, Ofgem, Ofwat and the Financial Conduct Authority.
What does this mean for me?
The guidance says that organisations must adapt their processes to provide a better experience whilst still keeping safeguards in place to protect vulnerable people from exploitation. It will also be very helpful for those acting on behalf of people in this position, as it provides a point of reference that they can steer organisations to when making contact.
Hopefully the organisations within the scope of the guidance will pick it up and adopt it quickly. It will certainly make things much more smooth and straightforward for Attorneys and Deputies to help those people they have been appointed to support if they do!
Dan Snedden is head of Berwins' Court of Protection unit and supports the representatives of individuals who are no longer able to manage their own personal and financial affairs.