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Dementia and money management

Money and dementia

What happens when you realise a relative is struggling to manage their money because of advancing dementia? You won’t be allowed to take control of their bank account just because you’re a relative. Whether or not you have set up Power of Attorney – and that is by far the best option – there are things you can do to support and protect your relatives.

My relative can no longer cook and clean for themselves. How can I get them into the system so that they can get support for daily care needs and cleaning?

Get in touch with their local authority’s social services team. This might be called adult services in their area. If you think your relative is in danger of harm, then you should get a faster response by contacting the local authority’s safeguarding team.

It’s important to talk to their council rather than yours, as they will be the ones determining if any help can be offered.

The council will arrange for a needs assessment to be carried out, and have a duty to meet eligible needs. They will also carry out a financial assessment to decide who pays for what.

On the financial side, you can look into getting a benefits check to make sure your relative is receiving everything to which they are entitled. Pension credit is one benefit that’s often not claimed, yet not only provides a little extra income but also opens the door to many other potential benefits that are worth claiming.

Attendance Allowance may be another benefit that can help to pay for care.

Citizens Advice can offer further advice on benefits, and charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society and AgeUK run helplines that may give you a faster response.

My relative has advanced dementia and we don’t have a Power of Attorney in place. How can we manage their finances?

The answer to this underlines the need for everyone to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney for legal and financial matters while we are still capable of making our own decisions.

If you haven’t set up an LPA and become judged incapable of making decisions for yourself, then someone has to apply to the Court of Protection to have the authority to look after your finances. This is both long-winded and expensive – although you are likely to be able to claim this cost back from the relative in time.

That said, it is possible that the bank will allow short-term arrangements so that bills can be paid, if nothing else. So if you find yourself trying to manage the finances of someone who no longer has the capacity to do it for themselves, you can try talking to their bank and see if they can offer any help.

How can I manage a bank account as an Attorney?

Once you have been registered as an Attorney with the bank, life should be relatively easy. The bank is likely to give you online access, together with a card and a PIN, so you are acting just as an account holder.

My parent’s caregiver needs cash to pay for small items, but we don’t want them to have full access to the bank account. How can we manage that?

Santander operates a Carer’s Card scheme, under which carers (voluntary or professional) can be issued with a card connected to the account that can give them access to cash, up to a limit that is no higher than £1500. This can then be used for shopping and other day-to-day items.

Other banks may offer a similar scheme, so again it’s worth talking to your relative’s bank about how they can help.

My parent is in the early stages of dementia but is still capable of managing their own affairs to some extent. What worries us is the number of people at the door and on the phone who are very credible but simply want to relieve our relative of large amounts of funds. How can we prevent this?

One option might be to use a Carer’s Card or a similar scheme, so that your parent can only take out a small amount of money at any time.

Alternatively, you could go down the route of opening another bank account that would hold limited funds especially for your parent, which you could regularly top up from the main account. This could protect the majority of their funds should be protected from scammers.

Definitely worth a look is Sibstar, a secure debit card and app for people with dementia and their families.

You can also work with your relative’s bank to put a stop on international payments and gambling transactions, for example, or put further controls on how and when your relative can make payments and access cash.

How can I get involved with the benefits system and council tax on behalf of my relative with dementia?

You can apply to become a benefits appointee on behalf of a relative receiving benefits.

If someone is living with a person with dementia, they can apply to have that person ‘ignored’ for the purposes of Council Tax. There are conditions, that include the person being certified as having severe impairment by a medical professional, and that the person is entitled to certain benefits. More information is available on the DWP website.

Information in this article was provided in a discussion webinar between Alzheimer’s Society and Santander. You can watch the webinar here.

When They Get Older is not a professional adviser and you should not rely solely on the tips we have published here. Apart from anything else, this article may become dated over time. We hope it does provide you with some guidance as to what help you can give a relative, but do check the resources and ask professionals for further help. 

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