Safeguarding aunt's money - opinions on what to do please.

Discussion in 'Legal and financial issues' started by sinkhole, Apr 14, 2015.

  1. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    #1 sinkhole, Apr 14, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2015
    The situation with my aunt is at the stage where she seems capable of getting out to the shops by herself, but is finding it difficult to deal with credit card transactions when paying for the goods.

    She lost her debit card a few weeks ago and I think she may now have lost the Visa card she has been using since. That leaves her with no cards and I'm a bit reluctant to get any more for her as she just keeps losing them.

    We give her cash to pay for things but she loses this as well. Now that's not too much of a problem as we know roughly how much she spends each week so we make sure she hasn't got too much at any one time to lose!

    However, I've discovered last week she went into the local branch of her bank and withdrew £100 cash. When I spoke with the call centre, explained the situation and asked what limits they put on cash withdrawals, they tell me she could withdraw up to £2000 on each visit if she wants to.

    My concern now is that she is going to get into a cycle of withdrawing money, losing it, withdrawing more and so on. I can monitor the situation as I have POA registered with the bank and I keep an eye on what goes in and out of the account, but the bank tell me it is her money and they can't put any lower limits in place.

    I could transfer most of her money to her savings account and leave a smaller balance in the current one, but then I'd be concerned that she might become distressed if the bank tell her the current account doesn't have much in it.

    I could also have a word with the branch manager and see if they will impose a discretionary lower limit on daily/weekly withdrawals locally.

    Has anyone had this situation and how did you cope with it?
  2. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    No offence if you think that's inappropriate but why don't you simply take her cards off her so she can't withdraw anything? It might be her money but as attorney you don't only have the right but the duty to look after her money in her best interests which means you should make sure she doesn't lose it. Also, your bank does not seem to understand POA very well if they think she should still be allowed to withdraw oodles of money. If she has lost capacity and you registered the POA with the bank, they should adhere to that or they might make themselves liable.
  3. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    She doesn't have any cards and the call centre tells me she doesn't need a card to withdraw cash from the branch because they recognise her.

    The conversation regarding POA is one I will be having with the branch this Thursday and that's why I wanted to get some advice here first. As attorney, should I be able to instruct the branch not to hand her cash if I deem it appropriate or do I not have that level of control?
  4. Mumsmum

    Mumsmum Registered User

    Oct 29, 2012
    I have similar problems with my mum so i scratched off the security numbers on the back of her cards and also move all but a couple of hundred into savings. Inline banking means i can check everyday. Write a letter to the bank stating they must not let the current account go overdrawn, and they must not move cash from savings without your authority as your relative is open to fraud, and if they do move the cash you will hold them liable for reimbursement. Say you will complain if your instructions are not followed, that will scare them
  5. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    We also found that the bank could not stop MIL from withdrawing her funds if she went into the branch and asked to do so. They agreed to phone OH if she attempted an unusually large withdrawal, after she was scammed by a thief who took her down to the bank and got her to withdraw £700 in cash for mythical building works. :(

    OH moved most of his mum's money into a savings account that had online access only so his mum could not instruct bank staff to move funds into her current account. She did not like this and argued with the bank staff that it was her money. They just politely said she needed to talk to her son.

    OH kept her current account on a short leash, only allowing enough for her to withdraw £100 a week, which was more than enough for her needs. She had just gone through a phase of multiple cash withdrawals, and at one point was hiding it in the house "in case I can't get out to the shops". Dementia logic. We all tried to explain that if she couldn't get out to the shops then cash wouldn't be any use to her, but it fell on deaf ears. Cash was her security blanket. We retrieved most of it (about £700 on one occasion and £300 another time) and paid it back into the bank. Once she realised we were not going to let her keep more than £80 cash in the house she stopped doing it.

    MIL would ring me during the day if she had been to the cash point and found her balance was low. Fortunately she was scared of going overdrawn so wouldn't draw any more cash if her balance was below £50. I would just tell her that I would let OH know. He checked online most days to see what she was up to. If she had, for example, paid for goods in a shop, he would do a small top up to the current account so that she could still draw cash for groceries.

    At first MIL was confused and upset that she couldn't get at her savings and demanded that OH had a weekly meeting with her to go through her accounts. It quickly became clear that she could not retain the information and that exposure to bank statements was just upsetting her rather than reassuring her.

    I would slip envelopes from the bank into my handbag if I found them at her house. Her daughter found this very shocking and we had words about it on several occasions. She said it was disrespectful to her mother; I felt it was more of a kindness. Once the EPA was registered OH arranged for the statements to be posted to him. MIL lost interest in 'managing my money' once the paperwork disappeared, although she still obsessed about having enough cash in the house.

    When she went into hospital she still fretted about cash and grocery shopping; it was her link with getting back to a normal life. When she went into residential care we took away her handbag, partly to stop her from gleaning other people's property, but mainly to take away that visual cue. One time I had to collect her and take her to the dentist. One of the staff had, with kind intent, provided her with a handbag. She was frantic to get cash and go shopping, and this persisted all the time we were out. She was in tears of frustration as I kept distracting her. She knew that if she could get cash she could 'get home' by calling a taxi, so by 'forgetting' to help her get cash I was forcing her to stay in the CH.

    It is such an emotive issue. There are many practical issues but on an emotional level money is also about being in control of your life. :(
  6. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    Thanks all, very helpful.

    I think I will ask the branch if they will impose a lower daily limit and contact me if she goes there and tries to draw more.

    I don't want to transfer most of the money out of the current account if I don't have to as the bank in question pays more interest and cashbacks if the current account has over £2k in it.

    It would be much better if banks insisted on seeing the debit card or some form of photo ID before handing over cash rather than using 'discretion'.
  7. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    #7 Beate, Apr 14, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2015
    So your mum goes to the bank without her bank cards and ID and they let her withdraw money? She could be anyone! That is seriously wrong in my eyes. I am not an expert but I thought once POA is registered with a bank and you take over the financial affairs, they cannot let her have access anymore - after all it means she has lost capacity, no? Otherwise, what's the point of having it? I would have thought they ought to put a note on her account that she is not to be given any money without the attorney's consent! Am I naive? Where is the bank's duty of care? They are basically sabotaging your efforts to keep your mum's money safe! What has the OPG to say about this?
  8. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    It's my aunt, but yes I tend to agree. I'd say this is completely typical of the banks making their own rules up when it comes to administering POAs.

    IMO, there should be a list of rules made by the OPG which all financial institutions have to follow, so we have some consistency in the whole process. Banks have far too much power and control over their own destiny in this country.
  9. sue38

    sue38 Registered User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Wigan, Lancs
    Registering a POA with the bank does not necessarily take the power to use the POA away from the donor. One of my sisters lives in Greece and I and my other sister have POA for her for the sake of convenience. It is registered with the bank, but my sister still operates her account normally. If it is one of the old EPA's and is registered with the OPG then yes the donor should not be able to continue to operate the account.
  10. Lizzie L

    Lizzie L Registered User

    Dec 1, 2014
    Hi Sinkhole,

    We are facing very similar issues at the moment.

    I have a lasting power of attorney for property and finance for my dad with his wife and we are in the process of registering it with banks etc. We also have a LPOA which can be operated by him and us whilst he has capacity. The hardest thing is that his capacity is in flux. I find the alzheimer's society's sheet on mental capacity really helpful and refer to it regularly.

    Also the sheet on making decisions and managing difficult situations helps

    Good luck, Lizzie
  11. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    This is the real issue when it comes to LPAs and Alzheimer sufferers. It seems to me there's a huge grey area when a person may be slipping in and out of capacity which could last for years.

    As attorneys, we are put in a difficult position because we want to make 'best interest' decisions, but there are many situations where conflicts of interest exist and they can be quite complex and difficult to resolve.

    This is another situation where I will do whatever I can to keep within the Mental Capacity Act and bank's rules, but if I feel there is a better way to protect my aunt's finances I will take the appropriate action and use common sense.
  12. missmarple

    missmarple Registered User

    Jan 14, 2013
    When my Dad was going through a phase of doing the same i got the bank (Natwest) to agree to a ceiling of £20 per day. However his other bank refused to do that and said I'd have to be present with him each time and ask for a maximum of £20 to be handed over. Very convenient, especially as I live two and a half hours away. Luckily the second bank (HSBC) was tucked away on a side street and he didn't get to it so often. They all seem to have different rules.
  13. Hex

    Hex Registered User

    May 24, 2014
    Newcastle Upon Tyne
    Hi, we registered our POA with mums bank and they did away with her cards and issued both my SIL and me with debit cards. Before the LPA was in place I set up direct debits for all of mums bills so in theory everything should go smoothly from this point. Mum gets a cash sum so she can have money in her purse and if it went missing (as it has in the past) the amount is enough not to make too much of a difference. The main point being she should be safe from being fleeced and her account is safe. This has caused a bigger problem but I will put it in another topic.

    Sent from my iPad using Talking Point

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