Heather Lally, Associate Solicitor, Estate and Trust Practitioner and fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly from FDR Law looks at the solutions to help the elderly during Covid-19.
Trying to teach your elderly relative to do online banking remotely, over the telephone or by face time, can be a trying and difficult task. So may elderly people rely on their adult children, other relatives, friends or neighbours to assist them with daily financial life. For the most part, these people have been comfortable dealing with cash or cheques and in face of the global pandemic such a way of life proves more than challenging, especially when those relatives, friends and neighbours have not been given the legal authority or powers to assist them in their task.
Many elderly are self-isolating and the practicalities experiences by the ‘face to face’ generation is over whelming for some.
So what can be done?
1)Check whether a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) over financial decisions or Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) has ever been made. If so, it may be stored at home or with a Solicitor or bank. If so and the LPA has been registered, certified copies of the document can be sent to banks and relevant organisations, allowing the Attorney(s) access to assist. An EPA does not need to be registered if the person who made it (the donor) still has full capacity.
2)If no such LPA or EPA is already in place, consider if your relative, friend, neighbour would be able to speak with a Solicitor to provide instructions. We can advise you on the practicalities of how we can take instructions at this time, having documents witnessed following social distancing and government guidelines and who can act as your Certificate Provider for a Lasting Power of Attorney which is a requirement to register a valid LPA.
3)A General Power of Attorney is a document that gives an Attorney authority for a maximum of 12 months and only whilst the person giving the power has capacity. That power can be limited to certain tasks or time periods. This may be a solution to ensure quicker access for the person that you trust to act as your Attorney during this difficult time. Witnesses are still required but there is no requirement for a Certificate Provider.
4)Third party access or joint account holders may be a solution for some but this comes with a warning. You do not have the same protections over your finances and redress if things go wrong.
Ultimately, the best solution is to have a registered Lasting Power of Attorney in place, either now if possible or after the restrictions are lifted. We are also able to advise for those who do not have mental capacity to enter into a Lasting Power of Attorney.
For more information on Powers of Attorney, contact Heather Lally on 01928 739300 or email Heather.Lally@fdrlaw.co.uk