Getting informal help to manage your money

If you feel like you need a hand with sorting out your finances, there’s no reason you can’t ask a friend or family member for help. Lots of people do this and it can be a real weight off your mind.

When you need help with your money

If you’re struggling with debt there are lots of free, confidential help and advice services available across the UK.

Getting help means you don’t have to struggle alone and can start solving or preventing money problems like:

  • running up debts – if you find it hard to budget and control your spending
  • living on less than you have to – if you don’t claim benefits you’re entitled to
  • hardship for a partner or other family members – if they rely on you to run the household finances
  • unpaid bills – which might mean services like your phone being cut off or that you’re threatened with being taken to court.

Choosing someone to help you with your money

Any person you choose to act for you must be someone you can trust completely, and it might be a good idea to check that they’re happy to do it.

When you know who you want to help you, you can decide what help you need.

There are different options to choose from, depending on your circumstances.

  • Do you have difficulty with some money tasks but not others?
  • Do you go through periods when you find it hard to manage, but can cope at other times?

Work out what suits you and your situation best.

Things someone can help you with include:

  • Help with paperwork — you might need some support filling in important documents or understanding certain terms. For example, information about your bank account, tax or benefit payments.
  • Help with meetings — you might ask someone to attend important meetings with you. For example with a solicitor, financial adviser, or benefits adviser.
  • Support with day-to-day spending — you might speak to someone for help about managing your money on a daily basis. 

Help with bank accounts

There are a number of ways you can get help with your banking.

They all have pros and cons, so make sure you pick the one best suited to your needs.

Third-party mandates

A third-party mandate is a document that tells your bank, building society or other account provider they can accept instructions about your money from a specific named person.

It gives that person the authority to run your bank account (but no other financial arrangements) for you.

There are usually some restrictions on what they can do, such as not being allowed to arrange a formal overdraft or open or close an account for you.

It can be a good option if you:

  • are going abroad for a long time
  • are over 18 and going to university
  • need some help managing your day-to-day banking.

Speak to your bank or account provider to request a third-party mandate arrangement.

They’re allowed to refuse your request.

Joint accounts

You can open a joint account with someone else, or change an account you already have so that it is held in joint names.

In this case, the money in the account no longer belongs just to you.

You and the other person become joint owners.

With a joint account, you can both withdraw money and take other decisions without asking each other.

If you set up a joint account so that someone can help you pay bills and other expenses, think about keeping a separate personal account for money that isn’t used for bills.

If either of you died, the other person might automatically inherit all the money in the account and be able to spend it.

And if one of you were to run up debts on the account, the other would be liable too.

So it’s important to make sure that you’re opening a joint account with someone you trust completely.

If you have a Post Office® card account

If your benefits are paid into this type of account and you find it hard to get to a Post Office yourself, you can ask for a named person (called your ‘permanent agent’) to have access to your account as well.

They’ll be given their own card and PIN so they can draw out cash and check your balance for you.

If someone offers to help with your bank account, Post Office® card account or other account, don’t just give them your own card and PIN.

You’ll be breaking the security rules and, if money goes missing, you might not be protected.

If you set up a joint account or third-party mandate, the person helping you will get their own card and PIN.

Consider opening a basic bank account

A fee-free basic bank account might be a good option if you’ve been turned down for a current account.

You can use a basic bank account to receive money and pay bills.

These accounts don’t have an overdraft facility, so you won’t be able to get into debt by spending more than you have.

Set up an ordinary power of attorney

A power of attorney is a legal arrangement that gives someone else the power to make decisions for you.

Some powers of attorney are designed to last indefinitely.

But you can set up an arrangement called an ‘ordinary power of attorney’.

This is designed to be used – often for a specific, short period or for a specific task when you’re able to make your own decisions but it’s convenient to ask someone else to take over.

An ordinary power of attorney can be useful if:

  • you’ll be away on holiday or in hospital for a time, or
  • you’re able to make your own decisions but want someone else to be able to step in with support from time to time.

An ordinary power of attorney can cover:

  • all your financial affairs – called a ‘general power’, or
  • just some areas that you specify, like dealing with the tax office or selling a house.

You can cancel the arrangement at any time. An ordinary power of attorney is automatically invalid if you lose the ability to make your own decisions.

If you want a power of attorney that will continue even if you lose the ability to make your own decisions, you’ll need to make a lasting power of attorney (called a continuing power of attorney in Scotland and an enduring power of attorney in Northern Ireland).

To set up an ordinary power of attorney, you can contact a solicitor.

But before you spend any money, check that your bank and any other providers will recognise the power and accept your attorney’s instructions.

A Citizens Advice Bureau might also be able to help.

When you won’t be able to make decisions in the future

If you know you’re going to find it more difficult to make decisions in the future, you can set up a lasting or continuing power of attorney.

This will allow someone you trust to make financial decisions for you in the long term.

This might be the case, for example, because of a progressive medical condition.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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