Many adults ‘relying on goodwill of relatives’ to help them manage money

Many adults are relying on the goodwill of relatives to help them manage their finances informally, a survey has found.

A quarter (25%) of people aged over 45 say they have access to the bank account of a relative who is not their spouse, Co-op Legal Services found.

Of these people, a fifth (18%) have access to a relative’s bank card or internet accounts and 7% have set up a joint account with a relative, the probate provider found.

Of those who have put joint bank accounts in place, a third (35%) said they had access to a parent’s bank account and a fifth (18%) are able to access a sibling’s account, while 11% can access an aunt or uncle’s account, and 9% can access the account of a grandparent.

Helping to manage money, pay for groceries and holidays were among the reasons people said they had access to someone else’s finances.

Four-fifths (79%) of the 2,000 over-45s surveyed said they do not have a lasting power of attorney in place.

This is a legal document which allows people to appoint others to help them make decisions on their behalf.

Gavin Holt, head of probate at the Co-op said: “It’s concerning that so many people are ignoring, or perhaps are not aware of, the benefits of lasting powers of attorney and are putting these accounts of convenience in place instead.

“Whilst it may seem convenient and safe at the time, in our experience, these informal arrangements can often cause significant problems which only come to light after death.

“The worst of the problems, and sadly one of the most regular, is where financial abuse is alleged to have taken place.

“This can add months, if not years, to the length of the probate process.”