Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Banking Tips

Power of Attorney (POA) banking can be a fraught process, both time-consuming and stressful.
Banks have different rules on how POA accounts are opened and how they are operated.

Here are some notes on how those banks I’ve used deal with POA accounts.

POA accounts usually need a form, which you have to request by phone or online, to be posted back to the bank.
You will have to enclose the entire original LPA or EPA document - the one with every page stamped by the issuing authority, or a copy certified by a solicitor.
Most banks allow you only 14 days to fund an account and the clock often starts ticking from the moment you make a telephone enquiry. With the account opening process taking an average of 3 weeks, this can be a problem.
When it arrives, ensure you complete the form exactly as instructed – use the correct colour of ink and tick every last box, including the ones about marketing.
Also ensure you follow instructions about identification documents to the letter.
If you are struggling to find ID documents, such as a passport or driving licence, most banks will accept a recent letter on headed notepaper from the care home manager.
Use recorded delivery for all communications with the bank.

Tip – care homes sometimes don’t bother to put their residents on the Electoral Register. It can help the identification process if your loved one is on the Register, so do it yourself if they aren’t.

What banks don’t tell you:
Many don’t make their withdrawal limits clear.
Some don’t tell you they can’t take instructions at the weekend – the newer banks aren’t usually on the Faster Payments system and can take up to 4 days to transfer funds.
Most won’t tell you why your instructions have been blocked.
Some don’t tell you when your withdrawn funds are due to reach their destination.

These are the banks I have so far used for POA banking:


Unreliable, partly because their security system is over-sensitive – it is prone to stopping payments even to established payees.
Its daily withdrawals limit is £10K.
The bank isn't very interested in investigating complaints.
The website often crashes.


Antiquated, unreliable and slow.
Poor security – they don’t have a system of checks on withdrawals – they don’t send codes by SMS for example.
Deposits can only be made using a debit card, not by BACS and take at least 2 days to complete.
Withdrawals are debited from your account immediately but actually take between 2 and 5 working days to complete. You can lose up to 7 days interest on your money.
The first withdrawal from a POA account is blocked for security reasons. You won't discover this until you contact NS&I by phone. You have to talk to their fraud department, but they only work Mon-Fri, 9 to 5.
There is no daily withdrawal limit
Although you can make online transactions from the donor account, it does not have its own log-in, so you can't buy any NS&I savings product, such as Pensioner Bonds, on the donor's behalf, unless you use paper forms.
If you forget your password or secret questions, you have to phone NS&I. They will post you a Temporary Password. These are quite difficult to read.
There is also no limit for compensation, because the bank is Government-backed.


Has a dedicated POA department.
The account opening process involves making an appointment and visiting a branch.
This makes the process straightforward but time-consuming.
If you have a problem, it takes 10 minutes or so to get through by phone.
HBOS staff often give out incorrect information.
On the plus side, if you complain, the bank usually gets back to you within the day and pays generous compensation promptly.
The daily withdrawal limit by BACS is £25K; by debit card it is £60K.
There are no online withdrawals on Sundays.
Disconcertingly, the donor’s debit card has the Attorney’s name on it.

Sainsbury’s Bank

An incompetent bank, prone to making mistakes.
Once, its anti-fraud department stopped a payment until I confirmed that it was genuine. It then put the payment through. Then, just to be sure, it made the payment again.
Bank staff seem to be clueless about most things POA.
LPA documents are returned speedily. However, the bank did once ‘lose’ a document I sent it.
It is slow to answer complaints and even slower to investigate them.
The withdrawal limit is £20K per day.
The Attorney’s name, instead of the donor’s, is attached to payments. This will lead to difficulties when opening new accounts in the donor’s name, due to money laundering regulations.

Vanquis Bank

Clear instructions on opening POA accounts.
Very slow to return documents.
The bank allows a month to fund a new account – by bank transfer. Once you start transferring funds you have 5 days to complete the process.
Even this may not be long enough to open an account – Vanquis returned my application form insisting I give the house name as well as its number.
Staff are fairly helpful. 
OK so far.

Charter Bank

Clear instructions on opening POA accounts.
Allows only 14 days to fund new accounts and takes cheque deposits only.
Charter Bank is reluctant to admit to mistakes or to pay compensation – it denied receiving documents I sent it and blamed the Post Office; the documents turned up later but the bank still blamed the Post Office for late delivery; because the 14 days had run out, Charter Bank returned the cheque I’d sent 3 weeks earlier, without any compensation for lost interest.

Aldermore Bank

Reasonably clear instructions on opening POA accounts.
Allows only 14 days to fund new accounts.
Very slow to return LPA documents.
OK so far.

Paragon Bank

Very clear instructions on opening POA accounts.
Allows 30 days to fund new accounts.
All good so far.

Shawbrook Bank

Reasonably clear instructions on opening POA accounts.
Rather basic security.
Quite slow to return LPA documents.
You cannot view POA accounts online.
Allows only 14 days to fund new accounts.
Getting through on the phone is quick and staff are very helpful.
You cannot manage their Easy Access POA account online.

Skipton BS

Has a complicated POA account opening process.
You can only open new accounts by post or in branch.
Once registered for POA, a New Account Registration Form has to be completed for each new account.
You have to wait 14 days before you can withdraw money from a new account.
Staff are not up to speed with POA account procedures.
You cannot manage POA accounts online.
If you need a statement of interest for tax purposes, Skipton BS will struggle to help you.