The National Careline Blog
Acting on behalf of someone else
02 April 2020
In these troubled times where elderly and vulnerable people are being shielded by family, younger friends or volunteers to protect them from catching Coronavirus, it is very likely that some people will need to collect pensions or benefits on someone’s behalf.
If you have to deal with another person’s pension or benefits, or you want someone to deal with this for you, you will need to know what is required to enable this to be accomplished.
There are a few ways of dealing with people’s affairs and the permission that gives you authority for one thing may not give sufficient authority for another. Especially, if what you are being asked to do involves making financial decisions on a person’s behalf.
One thing that is standard across the board is it is vital that the person who is giving the authority is mentally capable of granting the authority for you to action what they wish you to do. If they have lost mental capacity, then it is no longer possible for them to grant you, or anyone else to act on their behalf. In these circumstances someone will need to apply to the Court of Protection to grant you the permission to act as a deputy for them.
Third Party Mandate
If all that you need is someone to collect benefits or tax credits then, as long as these are paid into the bank or building society they can contact their bank and arrange with them for someone else to do this on your behalf. The bank will ask for a third party mandate to be completed – a form usually supplied by the bank – which will instruct them to carry out your wishes as per the mandate.
If someone wants help to regularly collect monies from their post office account, they can arrange with the post office for someone to become an ‘agent’. This is a term used to refer to someone who collects monies for someone else on a regular basis.
If you need someone to deal with filling in forms, informing the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of any changes in your circumstances or answering letters or queries then you can ask a relative or friend to be made your appointee. The ‘appointee’ acts on behalf of the person receiving benefits and who cannot deal with their affairs themselves.
You will need to contact the DWP and they will ask you to complete an application form. Upon receipt of the completed form, someone will arrange to visit you. They will also visit the person you want to deal with your affairs to interview them and to complete an appointee form (form BF57).
Once a person becomes an appointee for a person incapable of managing their finances on their own, they are responsible for ensuring that any benefit claims made and all details of the account, are managed correctly on your behalf. They are responsible for any benefit overpayments, reporting any changes and managing the monies received in the best way for your benefit.
An appointee can only deal with a person’s benefits.
Local authority ‘suitable person’
Sometimes, people who wish to arrange their own health and social care have monies to pay for care paid to them. These are called “direct payments”. In these cases, a suitable person is one who can manage those payments for a person who cannot manage this for themselves.
The decision is made by the local authority as to which person is “suitable” to access and manage the money paid by them for a person’s care. The payments are then paid into a bank account of the person receiving the care but the account clearly states ‘on behalf of (the name of person who receives care)’.
The above steps give basic help for helping a person manage their finances but for circumstances where a person needs further and more comprehensive help then the answer is usually to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney.
If you haven’t made a Lasting Power of Attorney and lose mental capacity in the future, your family and friends will not be able to manage your financial affairs on your behalf.
This is a legal document that allows ‘Attorneys’ – people chosen by you – to make financial decisions on your behalf. You can decide which decisions they should make for you, which might include using your bank accounts and paying bills, or bigger decisions such as selling your property.
The LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used, but once registered it can be used as many times as you wish in your lifetime, provided you maintain full mental capacity. This can be very useful in circumstances such as a long hospital stay, or an extended holiday abroad. If you lose mental capacity, your Attorneys would then be responsible for your financial decisions for the rest of your life – so it is very important that you choose your Attorneys carefully.
A Lasting Power of Attorney can only be made as long as you have full mental capacity.
Court of Protection
If someone has already lost their mental capacity, loved ones who wish to manage their affairs will need to apply to the Court of Protection to become a ‘Deputy’ who will act on their behalf. If no friend or family member is able to act as Deputy, the Court of Protection can arrange someone for you. Applying for a Deputyship will take much longer and cost considerably more than arranging a Lasting Power of Attorney and comes with regular costs and the need to keep accounts which can be requested by the Court at any time.
How do I arrange a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Arranging Lasting Powers of Attorney and making a Will are an essential part of Later Life planning. A little forward planning will help your family a great deal when they are dealing with banks and insurance companies on your behalf. Upon production of the Attorney, they will be able to handle queries and pay monies, such as care fees, on your behalf.
The National Careline offers a very comprehensive service for making Wills and Lasting Power of Attorneys and further information is available by contacting Victoria Milsom on 01604 521477, email Victoria.email@example.com or leave a message on our helpline on 0800 0699 784.
Read more from our blog