Senior Director at Carr & Co Solicitors Valerie Wormald answers your legal questions. Today we have a question from a worried daughter who is concerned that her mother isn’t keeping up with her bills.
I am worried about my Mum she lives on her own and has always been very independent but lately I have noticed that she hasn’t been dealing with her bills like she used to, recently there was a nasty incident with an unpaid credit card bill where the credit card company involved would not talk to me but insisted on talking to Mum who was very distressed and embarrassed. She has said that she would like me to deal with everything for her but I am not sure how my brother’s would feel about this or how to make to the credit card companies, banks and others deal with me rather than Mum.
Pauline, Gosforth, Tyne and Wear
Hello Pauline. There are a number of things which your Mum could do. It may be that the companies involved may accept written instructions from your Mum to deal with you and any Benefits Agencies could be requested to accept you as a Nominee. If your Mum wanted to put matters on a more formal footing and would like you alone to deal with her financial affairs, she could appoint you as her Attorney by way of a document known as a Lasting Power of Attorney – Property and Affairs. This would give you authority to act on her behalf in all her financial matters even if she should sadly become unable to make those decisions herself. She could appoint you with your brothers so that you could all act together or individually or she could simply appoint you alone to act. Before the Lasting Power of Attorney can be used, it must be registered at the Public Guardianship Office who do make a charge for registration but this charge can be reduced or dispensed with all together depending upon your mother’s financial circumstances. The Lasting Power of Attorney must be witnessed by an independent Certificate Provider, usually a Solicitor or a Barrister who can confirm that your mother is making the Lasting Power of Attorney of her own free will and is aware of her actions in doing so, the idea being that this provides a safeguard to prevent persons from being coerced into making Lasting Powers of Attorney when they are not well enough to do so. The Public Guardianship Office website www.publicguardian.gov.uk contains information which you and your Mum may find useful.
If you or someone you know is having difficulties staying independent call us on 0191 284 0363.