A RETIRED professor has been unable to access his bank account for six months – because NatWest refuses to accept his signature.
Prof Nigel Walker, 96 – a former Cambridge criminologist – moved into St Raphael’s care home in the Grange at the end of last year and in January NatWest refused to accept his signature on a standing order.
The bank has also rejected his daughter’s legal authority to manage his finances, leaving him in a state of limbo with no money to pay his mounting bills.
Repeated attempts to resolve the situation, including calling in lawyers, have failed to sort out the problem. And now daughter Dr Valerie Walker says she doesn’t know what to do.
Dr Walker, 71, who is a psychoanalyst, said her father had signed documents in 2003 to give her power of attorney – the right to act for him in legal and financial matters – and she decided it was time to bring this into service.
But she said the bank refused to accept the power of attorney because it did not include authority to “open and operate” an account.
Dr Walker said: “When the power of attorney was drawn up the wording in the document was in accordance with all legal measures in place at that time. However I have learned that since 2003 NatWest has introduced a stipulation that it must contain the three words ‘open and operate’.
“It seems absurd that a bank can randomly introduce regulations that override a legal document, rendering it invalid.”
She pointed out that the power of attorney specifically gives her authority to do everything that counts as operating a bank account – such as drawing cheques, withdrawing money, making investments, authorising expenditure and paying accounts.
She said: “It is deplorable that, although the power of attorney authorises me to manage my father’s financial affairs, NatWest is refusing to allow me to do so simply because it does not contain three words that NatWest deems significant.”
Dr Walker said the money to pay her father’s care home fees and an income tax demand are in his bank account, but neither of them can access it.
“NatWest has placed me in an impossible position. What am I supposed to do?
“It is incredible that NatWest is able to deny my father access to his own bank account while at the same time denying the implementation of a power of attorney which my father signed in 2003 to avoid the very situation in which we now find ourselves.”
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, which includes Nat West, was unable to give an immediate response to explain its policy on how it deals with power of attorney.