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We were appointed as powers of attorney for a gentleman who, although had capacity at the time that he made the LPAs, felt unable to deal with his finances.
He had a stroke a number of years ago and continued to suffer from the consequences. Although he had family, they did not want the responsibility of acting as his LPA. He appointed two solicitors in the team as his LPAs instead.
Once the Attorneyship was registered, we began the task of managing his finances. The first task was to visit his property. Our client had been in various care homes for the last 8 years and therefore the property had been unoccupied for some time. The property was not in a good condition when we went to visit and was falling into disrepair. There was also a window left wide open and must have been open for several years. We secured the property, put insurance in place and instructed an organisation to carry out bi-weekly inspections.
During this time, we also put a royal mail redirection in place. This would redirect all post going to the property to our office. It is a great way of learning more about someone’s finances. It became immediately apparent that this gentleman had not been able to keep up with bills, council tax and other expenses in relation to the property for some time. We were receiving letters from debt collection agencies every day. We quickly went to work contacting the agencies, explaining that Attorneys were now in place and requesting that the accounts with them were not escalated. If a debt collection agency escalates an account, it normally results in the debtor paying more to clear their debt. We of course didn’t want our client to incur any further costs.
Once the accounts were frozen, we wrote to the utility companies, submitting meter readings and obtained accurate bills. All the bills issued were estimated which always inflates the balance due. It was not long before we had cleared our client’s utility debts.
Clearing our client’s Council Tax debt was not as straight forward. Our client had been in and out of a number of care homes over the last 8 years. Normally, if you are resident in a care home you are exempt from paying Council Tax. I called each care home and did some investigative work to establish an 8-year timeline. Following submission of this timeline to Birmingham City Council they not only cancelled his debt but refunded the money that our client had tried to pay a number of years previously.
As we do with all of our clients, we conducted a benefits review for our client. It came to light that, as he was a self-funder of his care, he should be eligible for attendance allowance. I made a few enquiries and prepared an application to DWP. I was very pleased when DWP agreed that the client had been eligible for a number of years and paid him £10,500 in back payments. This is a great result for our client who, due to his vulnerabilities was unable to make the application himself.
Now that we had cleared his household debts, ensured his property was secured and claimed the correct benefits on his behalf, we are in the process of clearing most of his care fee debt. He has also given us the go-ahead to sell his property and to ensure that he has funds available to cover the remaining time that he has in his care home and pay the remaining care fee debt. We also set up a direct debit to him in his care home to ensure that he has access to his own money. We will continue to ensure that he has everything that he needs financially, such as new clothes, bedding, a comfy chair for his room etc.
I believe that we have provided really important assistance to our client who, if we had not been registered as his Attorneys, would have fallen further into debt and not been able to access his funds held in bank accounts.
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