“We have a joint bank account”….”I am married”

“We have a joint bank account”.

“I am married”.

The most common reasons I hear why people do NOT make Lasting Powers of Attorney.

Yet, neither of those reasons are valid.

1) Even if you have a joint bank account, guidance issued by the British Bankers Association states that, “banks and building societies can use their discretion to determine whether or not to temporarily restrict the use of the account to essential transactions only (for example, living expenses and medical or residential-care bills) until a deputy has been appointed or a power of attorney is registered.” So it is not a given, that a joint bank account can continue to be used after 1 of the party has lost capacity. The reason is that it is assumed/implied/understood that each of the parties of a joint bank account gives tacit consent for the other party/ies to use that account. So, once someone loses capacity, that consent (tacit or otherwise) no longer exists if 1 person doesn’t have the capacity to give it. Some banks & building societies will, therefore, suspend the whole account as they will deem that consent from ALL of the parties no longer exists. So it simply is not enough to merely say, we have a joint bank account so everything will be alright.

2) Being someone’s spouse too, is not sufficient to allow 1 spouse to make decisions for the other if mental capacity ends. It just won’t happen. We have all heard those words, “May we speak to the account holder please”. That’s all when & good if that account holder is not in a coma or, in some other way, devoid of capacity. But if they are, then there is no chance that they can speak to anyone. Don’t just take my word for it. The very highly public travails of the TV presenter Kate Garraway are a very sobering lesson. When her husband Derek got very ill from COVID back in 2020 Kate was left high & dry as she had no LPA in place. This meant that she was unable to deal with the theft of the family car, which was in Derek’s name, and that she was unable to re-mortgage the family home, among other things. Without an LPA she lacked the legal authority to act on Derek’s behalf. Then in 2017 was the sad case of PC Paul Briggs whose WIFE had to go through the courts in order to get permission to withdraw life support as she had no LPA in place. This is a process that took 18-months! And this is someone who was a spouse. And finally, back in 2020 was the highly publicised case of Ylenia Angeli who was arrested, following a dispute involving her mother’s care home, about her mother’s health & wellbeing. The care home argued that Ylenia did not have permission to remove her own mother. Ylenia DID have an LPA over her mother, but 1 for property & finance but not for health & welfare.

So here are just some reasons why, “we have a joint bank account” or “we are married” just simply doesn’t cut it.

The only way to ensure things are able to carry on is by taking out LPAs; we have over 20 years of advising on & preparing LPAs, get in touch today for peace of mind tomorrow.