When a family member is managing your money for you, or for another family member, concerns can crop up. Often the problems can be easily sorted out. If you think something’s wrong, you should check whether your concerns are valid and get expert advice on your next steps.
Check your concerns are valid
Money mismanagement is a very real problem and you’re right to take your concerns seriously.
On the other hand, a lot of worries are based on simple misunderstandings.
By approaching things calmly you might be able to put your mind at rest without anyone getting hurt.
Don’t make accusations – just ask for an explanation. That way nobody gets hurt by misunderstandings.
There might be a very good reason for an unexplained payment so your first step is to ask for an explanation of the payment you’re worried about.
The conversation will be calmer if you don’t phrase it as an accusation. Instead, ask: ‘I was just wondering what this was for…’
That might be all you need to do to sort out the problem. But if you’re not comfortable with the answer you get, don’t feel guilty about taking things further.
Get expert advice
If you’re still worried after you’ve spoken to the family member managing the money, it’s a very good idea to get some expert advice. You can:
- Talk to your local Citizens Advice Bureau for free, confidential, independent advice.
- Ask a solicitor – if you’ve already been using one to make arrangements, they will be familiar with the situation and might be able to offer informal advice. You might have to pay for this, so always ask in advance and check you’re happy with the rates.
Find a solicitor in:
- England and Wales: The Law Society
- Scotland: The Law Society of Scotland
- Northern Ireland: Law Society of Northern Ireland
Take action if necessary
If you think someone is in immediate danger (either their money is being stolen or they’re at risk of physical harm) you should phone the police straight away.
Similarly, you might consider someone is being coerced into allowing their money or assets to be used in a way that you would not expect.
This could be a form of financial abuse often referred to as coercive control.
If the problem is less urgent, the action you might end up taking depends on the situation.
- If you disagree about how money is being used, it’s often best to have a clear-headed conversation. A disagreement might be something like whether the money should be spent on home care or day care. If you can’t sort it out between yourselves, try getting professional advice – from doctors or social workers, for example.
- If it’s an attorney, deputy, guardian or intervener, or controller that you’re worried about, you should let the right authorities know.
- If you’re worried about a trustee, it might be best to get them removed from the responsibility.
- If a lot of money has been used in a way that you don’t agree with, you might have to consider taking the person to court. You should bear in mind that it is likely to destroy your relationship with that person, be stressful for both sides and has no guarantees of success for anyone.
The GOV.UK website has information on making a court claim for money.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.