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Managing Responsibility for Another’s Affairs

Friday, 8 August 2014

There are various parts of a person’s life that friends or family members may be appointed to manage on their behalf in certain circumstances. This can be intimidating for inexperienced appointees.

Third party appointments can be made for dealing with a host of responsibilities such as managing bank accounts, buying or selling assets or executing wills. People taking on these duties via lasting powers of attorney, deputyship orders and other third party management arrangements may come across issues that they are not comfortable dealing with on their own.

In circumstances where those appointed feel overwhelmed it can be helpful to seek professional advice and also to reduce any risk of a claim being made against them.

Managing Bank Accounts

Managing a bank account is something everyone must do for themselves at some point in their lives but doing it for someone else carries a different set of responsibilities. In recognition of this, various bodies including the Office of the Public Guardian, the Law Society and the British Bankers Association have produced comprehensive guidance for those appointed to do so.

The additional complexities managing someone else’s bank account can be stressful for those unfamiliar with what is required. Given that it usually happens at an already difficult time, such as when a relative loses mental capacity, it can be helpful to seek advice from a professional.

Solicitors are often appointed for the purposes of managing bank accounts on others’ behalves and should be able to offer objective reassurance to non-professionals concerned about their appointment.

Gifting or Selling Assets

It is possible for deputies and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to make gifts to other people unless this is restricted in the agreement. Gifts can be made on another’s behalf for family and religious occasions or to charities. LPA’s may also make gifts to themselves while deputies can make payments to address the needs of others. Gifts for other reasons are not permitted.

Any gifts may be challenged if they are unreasonable in terms of size or frequency having regard to all the circumstances. Reasonableness of size is particularly influenced by the size of the estate.

Clearly the judgement involved in these types of decisions can weigh heavily upon the appointed person’s conscience and can carry consequences if a mistake is made so the advice of an experienced professional can help decide the best course of action.

Executing a Will

Recent data from the Chancery Division suggests that claims against executors for handling an estate poorly have nearly tripled in the last year. The bases of claims have included those pursued for simple mistakes right through to claims for fraudulent execution of wills. This has resulted where executors have either disproportionately distributed assets to preferred beneficiaries, or even to themselves, through deliberate misinterpretation of a will.

Executing a will is not as straightforward as many people expect and it can sometimes be difficult for non-professionals to interpret the terms or deal with the pressures that beneficiaries may exert. Accordingly, it can make sense to seek independent advice to avoid problems.

What to do if You Need Help or Advice

In the event of difficulties in managing the affairs of another person, contact Neil Acheson-Gray by email nacheson-gray@rollingsons.co.uk or telephone 0207 611 4848.

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