Getting informal help to manage your money
If you feel like you need a hand to sort 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
- Choosing someone to help you with your money
- Help with bank accounts
- Set up an ordinary power of attorney
- When you won’t be able to make decisions in the future
When you need help with your money
Do you have the maths skills to work out your budget? Visit the National Numeracy Challenge for help.
Getting help means you don’t have to struggle alone and can start solving or preventing money problems like:
- Hardship for a partner or other family members – if they rely on you to run the household finances
- Living on less than you have to – if you don’t claim benefits you’re entitled to
- Unpaid bills – which could mean services like your phone being cut off or that you are threatened with being taken to court
- Running up debts – if you find it hard to budget and control your spending
Choosing someone to help you with your money
Any person you choose to act for you should be someone you can trust completely and you should 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 can ask someone to attend important meetings with you, for example with a solicitor, financial advisor, or benefits advisor.
- Support with day-to-day spending. You can speak to someone for help about managing your money on a daily basis. For example, you could fill in our free Budget planner and work out how to better manage your finances.
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.
A third-party mandate is not appropriate if the account holder is losing the ability to make relevant decisions themselves.
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.
- 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.
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 may 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 you need to be sure that you’re opening a joint account with someone you trust completely.
To set up a joint account, contact your bank or other account provider.
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 will 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 will 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.
To appoint someone as your permanent agent, get an application form from any Post Office.
Consider opening a basic bank account
A fee-free basic bank account may 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 will 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. It’s worth shopping around as the service can cost up to £150.
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 may 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 could be the case, for example, because of a progressive medical condition.
In England and Wales it’s possible to set it up a lasting power of attorney on GOV.UK. It costs £110, but could be free or cheaper if you are on a low income or receive benefits.