Beware of Jointly held bank accounts when Incapacity strikes


Where a couple have a joint account and one of them has a sudden loss of capacity, the banks are seemingly unclear of how to proceed and do not operate to a uniform code of practice – although by now you would think the British Banking Association (BBA) would have this one nailed.

To avoid hitting this problem head-on, it is a good idea to have an LPA or Lasting Power of Attorney ? Property & Financial Affairs in place.

It is not just a problem that couples face, most (if not all) High Street banks are quite happy to agree to put your son/daughter on your account as a ?joint signatory? at your request so that they can help you manage your money. Buyer beware as they say! I would encourage you to think again.

It is highly likely the bank will freeze your account when incapacity strikes, and unless there is an order from the Court of Protection in place or a registered Enduring or Lasting Power of Attorney, you won?t be able to operate the account from that point on.

This is all at the discretion of the banks, there is no statutory requirement for a bank to respond in a prescribed way. From their point of view they are simply dealing the situation from a risk management point of viewpoint. Nothing wrong with that I guess, but if it causes you untold grief and stress it is both unhelpful and unacceptable. The route of the problem is a training issue and often down to who you see at the bank and their own personal understanding/interpretation. This is a major failing of the banks and with an ageing population the problem is only likely to get worse before it gets better.

So even if an EPA/LPA or Court of Protection Deputyship is in place, and registered, you may still encounter problems. Some words of advice… implement your own risk management strategy! Never let a bank take away the original document as they have been known to inadvertently shred them. Make sure they see a ?certified copy?. If you hit a barrier of any kind, ask to speak to someone more senior, even ask for the Regional Manager?s contact details because you want to make a formal complaint.

If you have a concern please contact us as we would be delighted to help/advise you.

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