Power of Attorney in house sales

When dealing with finance, the correct Power of Attorney is essential if you are not to run into problems, as a recent Monsey Saving Expert forum thread proves.

The original poster (OP) in the thread complained about their ‘whack-a-mole’ house purchase, where they had difficulties getting an offer accepted, negotiating the price and then arranging the mortgage.

When the problems had been resolved, their solicitor then revealed the seller had a minor paperwork problem. That seller did not have the correct Power of Attorney authorisation to sell the property on behalf of their incapacitated relative, which only came to light five months after the chain had been completed and no-one knows how long it will take to resolve.

Court of Protection

The OP’s solicitor thought it might take up to nine months for the case to go through the Court of Protection unless the seller at the top was able to get an emergency order for the house sale. The solicitor was chasing the seller’s solicitor to find out how far along they process they were. The OP had asked the estate agent for help, as that estate agent was selling both properties, but that person was not acknowledging the emails.

While the OP does not expect the seller’s solicitor or the estate agent to ‘fix’ the situation, they consider it reasonable for both parties to provide information on what is happening and how long it might take.

The OP’s mortgage offer ends at the beginning of January and a new one will cost about £10,000 more, during the fixed period because of the fast rise in interest rates. The OP is living in rental accommodation and again, does not want to end up paying rent indefinitely when they could be building up further equity.

Safeguards in place

The OP expressed surprise that there did not seem to be safeguards to prevent the sale of a vulnerable person’s property if the seller has no legal rights.

David Lockwood, Finders International’s public sector senior business development manager, said: “Unfortunately, this case demonstrates the pitfalls that can befall bystanders when proper processes are not followed. There are many reasons why someone might need to or wish to sell their property—downsizing to a smaller house or flat or to help with the costs of residential care.

“If that person has the mental capacity to deal with the paperwork and admin, all well and good, but if not, what happen then? To sell on another’s behalf, you need the required authority—either Lasting Power of Attorney or becoming a Deputy as appointed by the Court of Protection.”

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