Day-to-day finances could involve paying utility bills, collecting a pension or paying home help services. There are various ways that you can assist your relative with these tasks.
On this page you can find details about how to help your relative deal with the following:
1. Banks and building societies
3. Benefits and allowances
4. Paying bills
5. Working together
Banks and building societies
Be warned that if you try to run someone else’s account by using their PIN or online banking, you are technically in breach of the account's terms and conditions. There are other ways that you can help your relative to manage their money.
Third party mandates: if your relative wants you to deal with their bank on their behalf, they need to contact their bank to ask for a ‘third party mandate’ form. After they have signed and returned this form, the appointed ‘third party’ will be allowed to make calls, query statements and operate the account(s) on their behalf.
Joint account: another option might be to set up a new joint account for bills, so that you and your relative have joint access. You can then manage this online, or deal with problems yourself. However, bear in mind that there would then be tax and other implications to opening a joint account. Half of the money becomes yours for income tax and IHT purposes, and you are also jointly liable for any debts.
Cancel unused cards: suggest to your relative that they cancel unused credit cards so that there is less chance of using them inadvertently or losing them.
It might be a good idea to sit down with your relative once a year to review their current accounts, savings accounts and credit cards to ensure that they are getting the best rates. Which? members can check current Which? Recommended Providers on this page. If your relative wants to switch accounts, they will have to sign the forms themselves. You can’t switch accounts for them.
Your relative might also want to consider maximising savings in case of more expensive care needs in future. The Which? Money Compare savings and Isa comparison tables can help make the most of savings.
If your relative has investments, you might want to arrange for him or her to talk to a qualified independent financial adviser (IFA) to make sure they are getting the best out of these. For more advice on finding an IFA, see this page on the Which? website.
Benefits and allowances
Your relative can ask for benefits and allowances to be paid directly into their bank account – if they are not already – to make it easier to access the money and pay bills with it. Our guide to Benefits and allowances for the elderly includes information about attendance allowance, personal independence payment (PIP) and pension credit.
Paying bills such as electricity, gas, telephone, water and council tax can be an additional worry your relative wants to avoid. If they are paying bills via the post office or by cheque, this can be quite time-consuming, so your relative might want to consider the following:
Setting up direct debits: setting up direct debits for regular bills, such as gas and electricity, could help to simplify things. Your relative will have to contact their service providers to request a direct debt mandate and sign the forms, but it will make life easier for them once things are set up. Some organisations offer discounts if you pay by direct debit, so your relative might save money too.
Nominating a third party: under normal circumstances, utility companies will only speak to the named account holder, but it is usually possible to nominate a third party to deal with providers. Your relative will need to set this up. If they contact the service provider and explain the situation, the company should be able to advise on what to do next.
This might not always be possible but, if you have time, talk to your relative to make sure they are getting the best deal from their energy and telecoms providers. If not, then you could help them to switch.
If your relative wants you to help more with their financial affairs or has a deteriorating illness that could affect their mental health, it’s a good idea to carry out a ‘mini audit’ early on. Make time to talk to your relative to:
- make a list of all the organisations they deal with, plus any relevant account/customer numbers. For example, who do they bank with, who is their electricity provider, where do they keep any savings?
- find out where they keep any relevant paperwork, so that you can find it later if you need to
- ask them about their wishes. For example, what are their future plans for any savings/investments?
- Jerry’s story: Jerry tells of the difficulties he faced when trying to manage his parents’ finances from a distance.
- Benefits and allowances for the elderly: more information about the benefits your relative might be entitled to.
- The benefits system: information about ‘other financial help’ available to the elderly.
Page last reviewed: January 2015
Next review due: November 2017
Which Ltd is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Which? Mortgage Advisers, Which? Insurance Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited.