Many married couples and civil partners have joint bank accounts to make day to day financial matters straightforward. Many see it as a simple way to ensure that funds can be accessed if one were to lose mental capacity at some stage in their life.
However this approach can be flawed and this article will set out how a joint account should not be a substitute for a lasting power of attorney for property and finances. Many people in Bristol have found over the years how such an arrangement has caused issues down the line.
The most obvious problem is if on the death of one signature on the account, the bank decide to freeze the account. The banks can use their discretion to decide to freeze an account to stop any withdrawals if capacity is lost. The reason being that both holders of the account need to give consent for any withdrawal. Although this may be temporary, in the short term this can cause obvious financial difficulties.
Of further consideration is the way that accounts are not regulated unlike a LPA. With a lasting power of attorney, there are checks and safeguards for the donor. For example the Office of the Public Guardian run a helpline to call should anyone have concerns about the way in which an attorney or deputy is acting. Such a call is taken very seriously and relevant enquiries are made.
A very obvious way to avoid such a situation is to prepare a Power of Attorney for Property and Finances and inform your next of kin. Such a power must be prepared when a person has mental capacity, if capacity is lost, a LPA cannot be made. Rose & Trust of Bristol have considerable experience in preparing Lasting Power of Attorney and you can call us on 0117 369 1969 to begin the process.