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Stories demonstrate the need for more awareness of Power of Attorney

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Families have spoken of the challenges of exercising Power of Attorney when dealing with banks and financial institutions.

Last month it was revealed that the number of complaints from those trying to manage finances on behalf of a loved one had doubled in the space of just five years.

Subsequently a flurry of people contacted the Daily Telegraph to report the difficulties that they had experienced themselves.

Among those who had found the process challenging was retired teacher Rachel Ellis, who is responsible for managing her father’s accounts.

One of the real obstacles has been setting up online banking so that she can handle financial transactions remotely. This has proven a particular problem in her dealings with Nationwide Building Society.

“Every time I want to change anything I have to traipse all the way to Bromley which is a good 45 minutes by bus,” she told the newspaper.

“It’s the only way they allow me to deal with the account. A customer service representative told me on the phone that to operate an online account while acting as an attorney I’d need a joint bank account with my father.

“But when I went into the branch to set this up I was told that it wasn’t possible after all.”

A Nationwide spokesman said: “We are currently improving access for attorneys, although at present the donor and attorney cannot have separate logins for online banking. This is due to there being a risk of financial abuse, albeit a small one.

“If a donor is physically or mentally incapable of using the online bank, we will grant the attorney access. However, in this case the customer has not been classed as such.”

In light of the ongoing problems experienced by Ms Ellis and others the British Bankers’ Association has reiterated the importance of bank staff receiving comprehensive training on how Power of Attorney and Court of Protection orders work in practice.