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helping a friend or relative

Helping a friend or relative who is struggling to manage their finances can be difficult, especially if they’re losing the mental capacity to make their own decisions.

For many people, the solution is to make a power of attorney - a way of giving someone the legal power to manage their finances.

In most cases, making a power of attorney will mean an end to the problems that can arise in these situations. But sometimes things go wrong, which is why the ombudsman has provided tips for both banks and consumers on power of attorney - and how to avoid problems.

chief ombudsman, Caroline Wayman explains more ...

Sometimes dealing with issues that arise when someone is losing their mental capacity can be distressing for everyone involved. But in recent years, it’s become apparent that many of the problems the ombudsman sees are about misunderstandings - which mean they could be avoided.

We realised that we could help staff working in bank branches by explaining in simple terms what a power of attorney is and what they need to do if they’re asked to register one. For customers too, it’s useful to know what your rights are - and when it’s only fair that the bank seeks help itself about the right thing to do for everyone involved.

So we’ve created some simple tips for both bank staff and people who hold a power of attorney. Following the advice should help prevent most complaints from happening.

Of course, some power of attorney problems will continue to be very difficult to sort out. So it’s vital that people know the ombudsman and the Office of the Public Guardian are there to help.

But in most situations we believe that by simply listening and talking through the options, bank staff can help support their customers and relatives acting for them deal with dementia and other problems affecting independence or mental capacity

useful organisations

  • We're a free service with the power to sort out problems with financial services. You can speak to the ombudsman if you’re unsure what to do about a power of attorney complaint.

  • logo: The Office of the Public Guardian

    The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) protects people in England and Wales who might not have the mental capacity to make certain decisions for themselves, such as about their health and finance.

  • FCA regulates the financial services industry
    The FCA regulates the financial services industry. They make the rules that banks and other financial businesses must follow, including how to sort out complaints.
  • Alzheimer's Society
    Anyone looking for confidential advice, information and support, can call Alzheimer’s Society’s National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 11 22. You can also email enquiries to or visit

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