Informal arrangements with relatives’ finances may seem like a sensible way to manage ageing parents’ accounts and welfare, but without proper Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) in place, these arrangements can easily be abused, or cause serious issues after death.
According to research by the Co-op, 25% of people aged 45+ have access to the finances of a relative who isn’t their spouse – for example, their parents, siblings, aunt or uncle. Around 10% of these had a formal arrangement via a joint account, and a fifth had direct access to online banking accounts or a relative’s bank card. In most cases, these figures represent family members taking care of issues their relatives may find difficult, for example online banking, paying bills, or even simply buying groceries. However, in some instances, these financial privileges are being abused, causing serious repercussions.
Lasting Powers of Attorney exist for this very reason: to allow a trusted representative to handle the affairs, finances, and health and welfare of a relative or loved one within the protection of a binding legal process. This means that a person’s wishes and intentions are followed, and the risk of misuse of finances can be avoided.
The discovery that someone with access to a relative’s accounts has been abusing their trust can be deeply distressing, and – if discovered after the death of the individual – can add months or even years to the probate process.
Of the 2000 people surveyed, approximately 30% of people had access to a parent’s finances, 20% to a sibling’s, and 10% to an aunt, uncle, or grandparent. However, a tenth claimed they would be concerned about the potential for someone to ‘borrow’ money from a relative’s account, while 5% of respondents said they actually suspected that a relative may have already been stolen from.
The simplest way to avoid these kinds of situations is to arrange Lasting Powers of Attorney – a straightforward and inexpensive legal safeguard to protect your financial affairs, property, health and future well-being. LPAs allow you to make decisions about how you’d like your finances, estate, and healthcare to be handled in the future, should you suddenly find yourself unable to do so.
To talk to a solicitor about how to set up Lasting Powers of Attorney, get in touch with our friendly family lawyers at Frances Lindsay & Co. We handle every aspect of end-of-life legal arrangements, including Wills, Probate, and LPAs. Visit www.franceslindsay.co.uk for more information.financial abuse, lasting powers of attorney