Informal arrangements can cause problems which arise after death

UK adults are putting their finances at risk by shortcutting powers of attorney and relying on good will from their relatives to manage their finances, Co-op has warned.

A survey found 25% of over 45 year olds have access to a relative’s bank account who is not their spouse.

Of these adults, 7% have set up formal joint accounts with a relative, while 18% have access to a relative’s bank card or internet accounts.

Of those people who have put joint bank accounts in place, 35% said they had access to a parent’s bank account and 18% are able to access a sibling’s account.

The survey also found 11% admitted that they would worry about a relative borrowing money if they were short themselves and a further 5% said they had suspicions that their relative may have previously taken money.

Despite this, people are opting out of putting a power of attorney in place and are making their own unofficial arrangements to enable relatives to make decisions about their finances.

Four fifths (79%) of those surveyed said they do not have a lasting power of attorney in place.

Gavin Holt, head of probate at the Co-op, warned that 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,” he said.