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What happens to your joint bank account if you lose mental capacity?

20th April 2018

Marie Tisdale, head of wills and probate at Ansons Solicitors in Staffordshire explains to joint bank account holders that it might not be what you might expect.

“Much to your surprise, it may not simply be the case that the account holder who retains mental capacity will be able to continue to manage the account on their own,” explains Marie.

“It is likely that any account held with the bank will have its withdrawals frozen. Standard withdrawals such as direct debits and standing orders should be able to continue as these would have been arranged when both account holders could give their consent.  However, if the capable joint account holder wants to actively manage the account and make arrangements for further one off or regular withdrawals the bank may not agree.”

Before they can do anything further with the account, the bank can say they require either:

The reasoning behind this view is to protect the account from fraudulent use but can be very frustrating for the capable account holder who simply wants to manage an account in which they have an interest.

The good news is that with a bit of forward planning, Ansons Solicitors can help you avoid such issues. Our advice is that if you have your mental capacity then it is important that you prepare, sign and register an LPA for property and financial affairs. This will appoint trusted individuals to manage all of your financial affairs, including all of your bank accounts, held in your sole name or in joint names with others.

Your bank accounts and investments (including those held jointly with someone else) can then be managed properly in your best interests should you lose your mental capacity. We can help you through the process of the creation and registration of a lasting power of attorney.

Bear in mind that if you are a joint account holder with someone who no longer has mental capacity then it is important that you find out if there is an enduring power of attorney or a property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney already in place. If there is not, then an application will need to be made to the Court of Protection for the appointment of a financial deputy to act on the other person’s behalf.

This is a longer and more expensive process but would ensure that a deputy can act on the other person’s behalf to actively manage their finances, which will include management of any joint accounts.

For more information and advice about making an enduring power of attorney, lasting power of attorney and Court of Protection deputy applications contact Marie Tisdale on 01543 267 981 or email mtisdale@ansonssolicitors.com.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.  Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.