Thursday 27 June 2019

Elderly warned of dangers of setting up joint accounts with their children

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Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Older people have been warned that if they set up a joint bank account - typically with a son or daughter - then any money in it will be legally owned by both people.

In the case of joint accounts, which are often set up when an elderly person is not confident handling money, the banks have urged customers to be aware of the legal implications.

They point out that if either account holder develops a mental capacity issue, then the bank may freeze the account.

If the vulnerable person dies, then the money in the account may pass to the surviving account holder, and not people named in the will. This could lead to rows between family members, the banks warned.

Older people have been advised to use less cash, as notes are easy to steal and, if they need help managing their money, to flag with their bank that they are a vulnerable customer.

They have also been advised by the Banking and Payments Federation to set up direct debits or standing orders to pay bills as this is a more secure way of making payments than using cash.

Advice: Louise O’Mahony of Banking and Payments Federation
Advice: Louise O’Mahony of Banking and Payments Federation

People who may need help managing their money have also been advised to get regulator current account statements from the bank and to check them for any suspicious activity or for missing money.

The banking body issued the warnings as part of an awareness campaign launched by Safeguarding Ireland, a not-for-profit organisation set up with the help of the HSE to promote the rights of vulnerable adults. The banking body is a member of Safeguarding Ireland.

Elder financial abuse is where older people have their savings taken, or are pressured into handing over money.

The practice can be as blunt as demanding money, keeping back some pension money, or putting them under pressure to sign off on loans.

Head of sustainable banking at the federation Louise O'Mahony said: "We all need to prepare for the likelihood that one day we may need extra assistance to manage our affairs, be that health or financial, in a way that reflects our needs when we feel vulnerable."

The guide is at or in bank branches. It is also available from Citizens Information, Age Action and Disability Ireland.

Irish Independent

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