Joint Accounts – What if the joint holder becomes mentally incapable?
You would assume that if one account holder loses capacity that the other can carry on using the account – yes?
No – in England and Wales, banks and building societies have a discretion to freeze or restrict the operation of the account to essential transactions (i.e. bills, care fees and living expenses).
If the other account holder has made a lasting power of attorney then this can be registered on the account and it is relatively simple for restrictions to be lifted.
If not, an application must be made to court for a deputy to be appointed. Deputyship is expensive, takes time and there is annual red tape in filing returns to court. This all comes at a time when you have enough to deal with without needing to go to court.
The benefits of a lasting power of attorney are that; you get to choose who acts on your behalf, there is no delay if you lose capacity and there is one less thing to deal with at a difficult time. It is a document that once completed can go to storage and you hope you don’t need, but it’s there if that time comes.
None of us know what will happen to us and we don’t always get a warning. The onset of dementia can be rapid and a stroke can mean you don’t have any warning to put in place a lasting power of attorney. It is always best to be prepared.
There are two types of lasting powers of attorney:
- Property & Financial Affairs – authorising someone to deal with your accounts, property, pensions and other finances
- Health & Welfare – authorising someone to make decisions about your care, medical treatment and life sustaining treatment
This is mirrored in the types of deputy that can be appointed by the court of protection if you don’t have a lasting power of attorney and lose capacity. But, as stated, it is a more difficult procedure and takes time.
If you need help with any of the above, Curtis Parkinson Solicitors please don’t hesitate to contact our legal team. We offer set fees and have a long established department dealing with such matters.
Please note that all views, comments or opinions expressed are for information only and do not constitute and should not be interpreted as being comprehensive or as giving legal advice. No one should seek to rely or act upon, or refrain from acting upon, the views, comments or opinions expressed herein without first obtaining specialist, professional or independent advice. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, Curtis Parkinson cannot be held liable for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies.