Do you have a Family member that needs help paying their bills?
If you have a family member that needs help paying bills, there are things that you can do to help. You may be able to support the family member to manage their own banking. While in other cases, it may be necessary to take over some or all responsibility for their banking.
In general terms, we recommend that you first work with the family member to see if it is possible for them to continue to manage their own banking with some help. Some strategies may include:
Assisting the family member to access banking services, such as offering to drive them to their regular branch.
Investigate if payment of some of the main bills can be switched to a payment plan that better suits your family member.
Offer to help the family member remember, store and file their bills.
If the family member has the necessary capacity, they can consent to you accessing their bank accounts. Some ways that this may occur include:
Your family member executes an Enduring Power of Attorney for Financial Matters appointing you as attorney; or
You family member provides consent directly with their bank.
We strongly recommend that you obtain legal advice regarding your options before accessing your family member’s bank accounts. This is to ensure that you are aware of your options, rights and responsibilities. You will also need to obtain further legal advice if the situation changes (such as your family member later losing capacity) as this may change your obligations or revoke your access.
It is also important that the bank is kept fully informed of the arrangements at all times. This will ensure that you (or the family member) do not accidently breach one of the bank’s terms and conditions.
If your family member is unable to manage their financial affairs, it may be necessary for someone to take over this responsibility. If they have executed an Enduring Power of Attorney for Financial Matters, the appointed attorney normally takes on this role. Where there is no Enduring Power of Attorney for Financial Matters, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has powers to select and appoint an administrator if there is a need to do so.
If you have any questions or queries regarding access to another individual's bank account or about your rights and obligations of attorneys in general. Please do not hesitate to contact Stephanie Rendell and the RNG Lawyers Wills and Estates team for further information. Stephanie and the team are experienced in all areas of estate planning, including elder care and elder abuse prevention.