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Dealing with Nan's mail

AlexD

New member
May 16, 2022
5
0
My Nan's been in a home for 3 years now with vascular dementia. Her mail is still coming to my address, where she used to live before going into the home, and I've been opening her letters to make sure everything is ok and there isn't anything I need to deal with (which there have been a few I needed to see to).

I've just found out it is illegal to open other people's mail unless you have good reason to. I believe I do have good reason as I am her closest relative with her best interests at heart and she lacks mental capacity. From a legal viewpoint, I don't have power of attorney or deputyship - the only thing I do have is I am her DoLs representative but I don't know if that counts for anything in this situation.

Citizens advice said probably best to get deputyship but it's £371 and takes ages to be appointed.

Any other advice or anyone been in similar situation?

Thanks in advance!
 

imthedaughter

Registered User
Apr 3, 2019
799
0
I'm with you - you have very good reason to. Surely the Royal Mail couldn't disagree. But a shame you don't have Lasting Power of Attorney and it's too late now by the sounds of it hence the suggestion for deputyship. I would probably go for that but I hold POA - someone who has been a deputy would have better advice. Without Deputyship if something really goes wrong with money etc you'll not be able to sort it out. But I've had no end of money and legal issues with my dad - your nan is probably less troublesome!
 

AlexD

New member
May 16, 2022
5
0
I'm with you - you have very good reason to. Surely the Royal Mail couldn't disagree. But a shame you don't have Lasting Power of Attorney and it's too late now by the sounds of it hence the suggestion for deputyship. I would probably go for that but I hold POA - someone who has been a deputy would have better advice. Without Deputyship if something really goes wrong with money etc you'll not be able to sort it out. But I've had no end of money and legal issues with my dad - your nan is probably less troublesome!
Unfortunately, only found out about power of attorney when it was too late and she wouldn't have been able to sign anything. Having said that, she was, and still is, stubborn and wanted to stay independent for as long as possible so probably would have refused anyway.

That sounds like an absolute nightmare with your dad! I did have issues with the council hounding her for money for her care and then threatening action which I had to sort out (one of the reasons I'm glad I opened her mail, otherwise would I have had bailiffs at the door?). I then got social services involved to basically do the deputyship thing themselves to be able to pay for her care but that was ages ago and don't think that's been approved yet.

Think I'll have to look into deputyship again properly, but for £371 application fee plus £320/year supervision fee, it's just so expensive. And that would be doubled if I wanted to be both types of deputy!
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
18,427
0
South coast
I then got social services involved to basically do the deputyship thing themselves to be able to pay for her care but that was ages ago and don't think that's been approved yet.
I would find out whether SS have applied for deputyship already, because I think it very likely that they have as I doubt they would have left it for 3 years. If they have already applied for deputyship, then Im afraid that you cannot now.

TBH, I think you have very good reason to open the post.
 

AlexD

New member
May 16, 2022
5
0
I would find out whether SS have applied for deputyship already, because I think it very likely that they have as I doubt they would have left it for 3 years. If they have already applied for deputyship, then Im afraid that you cannot now.

TBH, I think you have very good reason to open the post.
I know for a fact no payments have been authorised to the council for her care (as I check her bank statements from time to time to make sure no one's taking money they shouldn't) so either social services have forgotten to do the deputyship or it's just taking a really long time to go through. But yeah it's definitely something I need to chase up. And that's a good point, never even thought that if they've applied, I wouldn't be able to.
 

imthedaughter

Registered User
Apr 3, 2019
799
0
Unfortunately, only found out about power of attorney when it was too late and she wouldn't have been able to sign anything. Having said that, she was, and still is, stubborn and wanted to stay independent for as long as possible so probably would have refused anyway.

That sounds like an absolute nightmare with your dad! I did have issues with the council hounding her for money for her care and then threatening action which I had to sort out (one of the reasons I'm glad I opened her mail, otherwise would I have had bailiffs at the door?). I then got social services involved to basically do the deputyship thing themselves to be able to pay for her care but that was ages ago and don't think that's been approved yet.

Think I'll have to look into deputyship again properly, but for £371 application fee plus £320/year supervision fee, it's just so expensive. And that would be doubled if I wanted to be both types of deputy!
I don't think you can have multiple deputies either. Sounds like the council have applied so they can get their money? Makes no sense to also apply yourself if that is the case. Will they want to open the post? :eek:o_O
 

MartinWL

Registered User
Jun 12, 2020
2,029
0
65
London
I too think it is unlikely that you will be prosecuted. But you do need to sort out the situation. Ask the Office of the Public Guardian if anyone has deputyship, so you get to know for certain. Maybe isn't good enough. If the local authority is the deputy then you might ask them for permission to manage her mail - it would be unreasonable for them to say no. If nobody is her deputy, apply yourself. You can reclaim the costs from the person's funds.

In the meantime would the care home tell you who is paying their fees? Someone must be!!
 

Lemondrizzle

Registered User
Aug 26, 2018
221
0
It is unlawful to open someone else's mail with the intention to cause detriment to that person. Also, Royal Mail deliver to an address, so once it is correctly delivered to that address then the above rule kicks in.

The idea behind the law is to stop posties from deliberately not delivering/disposing of post, as well as having a vehicle to deal with interceptions to steal credit cards/identity etc.

"Opening a relatives mail in these circumstances is unlikely to be deemed in breach of the law.
Opening someone else's mail is allowed in certain circumstances under the Postal Services Act 2000. It is only an offence if you open someone else's mail 'without reasonable excuse' or if you 'intend to act to another's detriment'.
 

AlexD

New member
May 16, 2022
5
0
I too think it is unlikely that you will be prosecuted. But you do need to sort out the situation. Ask the Office of the Public Guardian if anyone has deputyship, so you get to know for certain. Maybe isn't good enough. If the local authority is the deputy then you might ask them for permission to manage her mail - it would be unreasonable for them to say no. If nobody is her deputy, apply yourself. You can reclaim the costs from the person's funds.

In the meantime would the care home tell you who is paying their fees? Someone must be!!
I definitely need to find out for sure what's going on, whether social services are sorting it or not. Thanks for suggesting Office of Public Guardian, I'll try and get answers off them.

As to who's paying her fees - she qualifies for council funded care but they basically take 90% of her pension each month in exchange. But as she was in no state of mind to sign over direct debits to them at the time, the council have been footing the bill for the past 3 years.
 

Sue741215

Registered User
Oct 18, 2019
86
0
My feeling is that things seem to be going along ok with the council paying for care and I would be inclined to let things carry on if it is working ok but I have to say this is not based on any experience. My main reason for saying it is that anyone looking after someone with dementia has enough stress without worrying about what might happen or changing thing that are working ok. The Post Office neither knows nor cares if you are opening the mail and would only investigate if there was a complaint which is unlikely plus it is clear that you are doing it for a good reason. If she were to receive money through the post I would keep a record to show you have deposited it for her or seek advice if this is not possible. However if you are worrying about your situation then you need to investigate your options and get rid of your uncertainty.
 

imthedaughter

Registered User
Apr 3, 2019
799
0
I definitely need to find out for sure what's going on, whether social services are sorting it or not. Thanks for suggesting Office of Public Guardian, I'll try and get answers off them.

As to who's paying her fees - she qualifies for council funded care but they basically take 90% of her pension each month in exchange. But as she was in no state of mind to sign over direct debits to them at the time, the council have been footing the bill for the past 3 years.
Oh so she has been financially assessed then - if they are not getting that 90% of the pension I expect they will ask for it at some point, or become a guardian so they can access the funds. Someone from an LA told me once that no matter what a PWD might owe to other people,. the council is the top creditor - this was when I was concerned about demands coming through to my dad and him not being able to pay his amount each week. I thought that was interesting to note for anyone with a PWD with financial problems (and there must be many).
 

Caring From Afar

Registered User
Mar 2, 2022
11
0
Good morning AlexD. I am in a position very similar to your own. My sister is in a nursing home and although I don’t have POA or Deputyship, I do open her mail which a neighbour forwards to me monthly. Even without the 2 powers, over the past few months, I have, among other things, stopped direct debits, had her bank account frozen and her water, electricity and gas accounts closed. The Council are paying for her long term stay and very soon will be taking over my sister’s affairs completely including the giving up of her council house.
Everything I have done is for my sister’s benefit and not my own immediate or long term benefit and common sense tells that opening my sister’s mail for that purpose is not illegal.
 

MartinWL

Registered User
Jun 12, 2020
2,029
0
65
London
Common sense isn't a guide to the law @Caring From Afar but we have had it pointed out above that there is a " reasonable excuse" defence here, I am pretty sure that it would apply to you. Do not fear incarceration in a rat-infested cell, it isn't likely.