Banking: Joint accounts with a person who has dementia

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by longgoodbye, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. longgoodbye

    longgoodbye Registered User

    Nov 23, 2011

    I know that banking questions have come up before but I would like some recent opinions and info please.

    The background is, my dad has dementia and I look after his finances for him. It suited him for me to have the ability to do this well before the dementia occured, as he worked abroad (and also liked being able to delegate boring stuff if I'm honest!) So I got to contact his bank about any mistakes etc - he felt it was easier to make me a joint account holder than get access through using a POA.

    My question is, does anyone know of any potential issues that I face in being a joint account holder with my dad? The income and expense from the account is all his - I have my own account - but I have the happy position of arranging and monitoring all his DDs and also withdrawing cash for him now that he has stopped doing this himself. (I leave ££ in his wallet, jacket pocket, in plain sight at home etc so it's always there for him. I don't keep records and have no idea where it goes anyway. He can spend next to nothing for weeks then go on a crazy buying spree with several hundred pounds disappearing on useless stuff/great stuff depending on whether you ask me or him. I'm sure you know how it works.) Anyway, while thinking about getting dad a will setup (he has capacity) I got to thinking - what about the joint account - could it cause me trouble somehow that I am a joint account holder with a person who has dementia? As I understand it, the most recent type of financial POA requires record-keeping and all sorts of things to show I'm not abusing him financially - which is fair enough of course - but I don't have that POA, so in a way I have more power really. Should I be concerned about anything?
  2. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    #2 jenniferpa, Jan 29, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2012
    First question - are you in Scotland? Because if you aren't (the rules are different there) the really big issue is that in the event the bank discovers that your father has lost capacity the account should be frozen. It doesn't happen all the time, but it should legally. So you could be put in a position where you will not be able to access the account, and if you don't have an LPA you will have to apply to become a deputy.

    I don't suppose there's any possibility of your father having capacity to create an LPA now?

    Edited to add: OK - I see from one of you other posts that you are in Scotland, and that's good news for you. In Scotland when one joint account holder loses capacity the other can continue to operate the account.
  3. I think it would make sense to start keeping a record of what's going in and out of the account. This can be done without any complicated bookkeeping. Firstly just make a note next to each entry on the statement what it is, e.g. Supermarket home delivery.

    Then start keeping a note of what you're spending the money that you're drawing on. This does four things. It protects you from accusations that you're spending his money for your own purposes; it gets you in the habit of doing so for if you later take over his affairs and want to keep full records; it will help if at any point you are investigated in relation to either means-tested benefits or tax returns and need to establish whose money this is; and it will help when he dies as again it will be important to establish whether this money is his exclusively or yours jointly.

    I am leaving aside here issues relating to capacity etc., which Jennifer has addressed, I am looking solely at the practical importance of keeping records, albeit plain, simple ones.
  4. hollycat

    hollycat Registered User

    Nov 20, 2011
    Hi longgoodbye

    Have a question To add to your question that I think will help others reading this thread.....I hope

    When one has a joint account, am I correct in assuming that when both people have capacity, both people are equally responsible for any debt on said account ?

    Anyone know if that is true ?
  5. Roma

    Roma Registered User

    Jan 15, 2008
    When my dad died and long before my mother got dementia, she decided to put me as joint account holder on her bank account and building society account. She was a very organised person in those days and thought it a good idea in case she became incapacitated in any way.

    I found it very easy to manage things this way and even when I got Power of Attorney it didn't change anything, although once I got POA I kept receipts etc for their records in case they were ever needed. I have one brother who trusted me implicitly with arranging all my mother's financial needs. It helped greatly when she couldn't write cheques any more so I could write them instead for things like when she needed a new boiler etc. I of course knew that money was hers and I used it entirely for her needs.

    When she died it also made life easy because I could write a cheque for funeral expenses direct from the bank account. When I informed the bank and building society of her death they just took her name off the accounts and left mine on. Without my name being on the account, the accounts would have been frozen until probate.

    Hope this helps.

    Roma x

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