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Treatment of joint bank account for capital

Jacky Philipson
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Housing and Benefits worker Manchester Mental Health Assertive Outreach Team

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Total Posts: 48

Joined: 28 July 2015

Just wanted to see if anyone could advise how a bank account - in name of claimant and her daughter - would be treated in calculation of capital for her pension credit claim. The balance is aprox £20,000 and has not increased apart from interest for the last 17 years. Balance has accumulated as result of regular deposits by claimant until she stopped working - she is now 93 years old - and is intended to pay for her funeral. The joint account is to enable her daughter to easily access funds for the funeral when the time comes.

It is solely a bank account however and therefore doesn’t - I assume - meet the SPC regs which allow for money put aside for a funeral to be disregarded - SPC REGS SCH 5 para 11.

I am hoping that only 50% of the capital would be assumed to be the claimant’s - although in reality she deposited all or most of the money into the account.

 

Elliot Kent
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Shelter

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Joined: 14 July 2014

There isn’t necessarily a definitive answer - its a complex area. A lot will depend on intent, actual or presumed. If mum’s intent was always that it would remain her money and the daughter’s access is essentially for practical reasons, then it is probably all still within mum’s beneficial ownership. Who knows what the DWP will say though.

If you are interested in the impact of trust law and the complex issues raised in this sort of situation, a reasonable starting point is Chichester DC v B & SSWP [2009] UKUT 34 (AAC) - you can ignore all the bits about Maltese law as that complication doesn’t arise here..

https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/welfare-rights/caselaw/item/Capital-money-placed-in-foreign-joint-bank-account-by-someone-other-than-cl

What concerns me more is that this really sounds like the setup for a complex and expensive legal dispute when mum dies. The daughter will claim that she is entitled to the money as the surviving joint owner but anyone with a claim on the estate (creditors, other family etc) may try to argue that the money still belongs to the estate. An argument like this could easily see the entire amount wiped out on legal fees. I think it would be wise for mum at this point to go and spend a couple of hours with a solicitor and try and set something out formally to clear up her intentions one way or another. It could save a lot of bother down the road.