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Those with Power of Attorney file rising number of complaints with Financial Ombudsman

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Banks and other financial institutions are too often creating problems for people who have been granted Power of Attorney, new data suggests.

Although individuals have been handed legal responsibility for managing the finances of someone who has lost capacity, difficulties often arise because staff lack an understanding of how the process works.

The number of complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service which related to the handling of Power of Attorney more than doubled between 2010-15. 79 of the complaints referred to the watchdog in the most recent set of statistics were ultimately upheld.

The figures reinforce previous concerns that bank staff often lack the necessary training to process transactions and that the procedure varies greatly between different financial institutions.

This prompted the Ombudsman to issue guidance, reminding banks that those trying to manage a friend or relative’s affairs were often already under a considerable amount of stress.

Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, said: “The types of complaints we hear about in financial services are usually related to poor staff training – for example, not understanding what an attorney can or can’t do – or clunky processes, such as asking attorneys to come in to the branch several times with different documents.”

A spokesman for the British Bankers Association (BBA) insisted that members were working to improve the standard of service to those exercising rights under Power of Attorney.

At Lester Morrill, our specialist Court of Protection solicitors are experienced in working with vulnerable individuals and their families, friends and care teams to ensure the best possible outcome. We currently manage cases involving private clients, solicitors, local authorities, referrals from the court and case managers. We also advise on matters relating to health and welfare, receiving referrals from family members and advocates. Please contact our team for further information.