Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Putting Affairs in Order

A few weeks ago I while was in the bank queueing for a cashier, I couldn't help but overhear a very elderly, distressed woman trying to get access to some money from her husband's account. If we ignore the picture of the poor lady trying to sort it out with a cashier in full view of us all rather than being taken to a private room then it was very unsettling for her. I do regret now that I didn't have the courage to intervene, ask if she'd like assistance or even tell the bank they should have been prepared to help her in a more private confidential way.
Her husband had been admitted to hospital. It sounded rather dire. I believe he was undergoing treatment that meant he had been in hospital for weeks and was likely to be an in-patient for even longer. He had sent her to the bank with a letter of authorisation for her to have access to money to pay outstanding bills. At the time I thought "if only they had a joint account - she wouldn't be having this problem". However, I've now found out that if one or other signatories of an account are mentally incapacitated then the account becomes frozen. So to be on the safe side I today downloaded 2 forms for each of us to complete for an Enduring Power of Attorney. The rules on Power of Attorney change on October 1st when the system becomes more complicated and obviously more expensive to complete. But if the earlier version of Enduring POA is signed and witnessed prior to October 1st the document will remain valid. Rules in Scotland are different.

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