What A Drag It Is, Getting Old.

What A Drag It Is, Getting Old.

The words of course are from “Mother’s Little Helper”, written when the Rolling Stones themselves were young. And the Helper in question was prescription medication. But the sentiment is as true now as it ever was.

One more quote

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.”― Andy Rooney

Apart from anything else – getting old creates practical problems, not least mobility and shopping.

According to a Mental Health Charity report this week, link here there are millions of people who have been trusted with Bank cards [and their PINs] by the people they care for.

Often these are people who are not suffering from any mental illness, but who cannot get out and about, and who cannot deal with their own Banks.

BUT, Banks require to deal with their customers direct. They will not talk to neighbours or helpful friends of their account holders and this is understandable. I am sure that, if you are a healthy young person in your prime of life the idea of your Bank sharing your private details with a third party would be horrifying.

But if you are deaf so you can’t use the phone, and too frail to go to the Bank, what to do?

This week a Notary Colleague of mine has written:-

I act for a client who has dementia. Her Bank has ignored my letters advising them of a change of address from the flat sold in 2014, and when she wrote [with my help] to give them the same information they said they would not accept written advice because of fraud and she must telephone them. She cannot hear anything on the phone. So with help she wrote telling them and they replied that she must telephone them!

Similarly the bank will not accept written instructions to transfer the balances.

So what are folk to do? One way is the way millions of people have decided to act. Just pretend!

If you are Mrs X, a neighbour and friend of Mrs Y who is deaf and bed-bound, then you use her card and you use her PIN. When you phone the Bank you introduce yourself as Mrs Y.

You tell lies.

The point that the Charity makes is, this pragmatic behaviour surely can’t be the way forward.

And it is risky too, whether for the account owner or for the friend who is trying to help. They are both, for the best of reasons, defrauding a Bank. And with hindsight, that behaviour can be presented in a very different light and even with criminal consequences.

As the population ages this kind of problem is not going away, but what are the alternatives?

Most people already know that in England you can make a “Lasting Power of Attorney” and the Government is minded to try to make this course easier. You can now make your Lasting Power on line at this website

So that’s all sorted, on to the next problem?

Err, no. Not really.

Problem number one, folk are getting into a muddle. Making it possible to create a complicated document like a lasting Power of Attorney online all by yourself without a lawyer is fraught with danger.

Danger of getting it wrong.

Danger that the person online is actually a greedy relative pretending to be the “Patient” (who is in fact already too far into dementia to know what is going on.).

Danger that mistakes will cost a lot more, in the long run, than the fees a Solicitor would charge now.

Thing is, most people who can afford a Solicitor are well aware that the Power of Attorney is too difficult and dangerous a beast to contemplate trying to DIY it online. The people tempted to use the website may be the people least able to do so. There is a warning paper link here prepared by the group of Lawyers called Solicitors For The Elderly.

[If you are a cynic you may think, well they are Solicitors, of course they will say you should use a Solicitor. In my experience, any Solicitor who has chosen to make a career in the realm of advice for the elderly rather than say Commercial Property and Banking, is not usually guided by ideas of getting rich. Am I naive, my view is that these Solicitors actually care?]

And problem number two, the Banks still have not trained their staff fully about these Powers of Attorney. Still they do not understand them. They think in black and white. If an Attorney has been appointed, it is not always the case that the Donor has lost capacity and that the Power should be registered with the Court.

The Banks in the main do not read the Powers of Attorney documents or seek to distinguish a Power which is expressed to let the Bank Account be operated by EITHER the owner OR his Attorney.

So again, the intention that the document should simply assist a carer to deal with an older person’s banking is defeated, if the Bank says it will only allow this on the basis that the Bank account is completely changed into the Carer’s name.

Because then, the account owner is effectively locked out of their account and can ONLY operate through the Attorney – and now the Bank will not accept your phone calls at all, only those from the Attorney. Now only the carer can sign cheques or make phone calls about the account. This is not usually what is wanted, when the infirmities are physical and not mental

Sledgehammer. Nut.

This needs sorting out. No-one is Peter Pan.

“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.”
― J.M. BarriePeter Pan

This week’s song is a good one, though fittingly sombre. Bones. link here

As ever, do contact me or Louise Morley here at AtkinsonNotary [0113 816 0116 or notary@atkinsonnotary.com] where we shall be more than happy to assist whenever you have paperwork to be processed for foreign countries.