Dealing with utilities for a person with dementia if they are unable to do this

From the April/May 2016 issue of our magazine, paying someone else’s bills and dealing with their utilities isn't as easy if you haven't being legally appointed to act on their behalf, but there are still ways to help.

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‘My uncle recently moved into a care home. He hasn’t set up a lasting power of attorney but I need to deal with his utility bills as he can’t – how can we do this?’

To access and manage your uncle’s accounts fully, you need to have a legal power set up, such as a lasting power of attorney (LPA) for property and financial affairs, or be appointed as his deputy.

However, there are ways in which you can help even when these arrangements are not in place.

Providing consent

If your uncle is able to consent to you managing these bills and dealing with utility companies on his behalf, then you could do this for him.

Often consent can be given by phone as well as in writing. Once they have your uncle’s consent, the companies should be able to deal with you.

Sharing information

If your uncle cannot give consent, you are slightly more limited in how you can help with his bills.

Although the companies cannot disclose information about your uncle and his accounts to you, they can listen to you and act on information that you share with them.

You should be able to contact the utility companies on your uncle’s behalf and let them know about his move into the care home.

They may wish to see some kind of proof – for example, confirmation from the care home – before they act on this information.

Resolving problems

Some families tell us that companies say they cannot help without the person’s consent due to ‘data protection’ or ‘confidentiality’, but this only restricts the information they give you and not what you share with them.

If you experience any problems, ask to speak to a manager or contact the company’s head office – they should be able to help.

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