Savings accounts if you have power of attorney for an elderly relative.
If you have power of attorney, some banks limit the type of saving accounts you can open.

I get lots of emails from SavvyWoman users who are dealing with their parents’ financial affairs and what they have in common is that it’s not straightforward. A power of attorney gives you the right to make financial decisions for someone else who can’t. So you’d think that once you have one, it would be a fairly simple process, but some banks don’t let you open online accounts if you have a power of attorney and others ask for a lot of evidence of ID.

Proving you have power of attorney
When I started looking into this, two building societies (Nationwide and Skipton) ask for original power of attorney certificates. After I queried it with them, they both said that they would accept certified copies of POA.

Never send in an original power of attorney certificate. If the bank loses it you can't ask for a duplicate, instead, according to the Office of Public Guardian, which registers powers of attorney, you'd have to re-register - at a cost of £35 and it would take several weeks. Some banks say they'd rather see the original certificate than a certified copy, but the Office of Public Guardian says they both have equal weight in law.

SAVVY TIP: Personally, I would only take an original certificate if I was going to a branch and could bring the certificate back with me. When you register a power of attorney you can request certified copies and I’d recommend that you get as many as your relative has accounts (plus a couple for spare). It’s cheaper than getting certified copies (which you have to do at a solicitor) after the event.

Why get power of attorney?
If you don't know why you might need power of attorney, the reality is that if you were to lose mental capacity, through dementia, another illness or through an accident, your relatives would have to apply to the Court of Protection for permission to handle your finances. There's a guide to setting up a power of attorney elsewhere on the site.

Banks and building societies
This is a guide to the type of account you can open and the process you'll have to go through if you have power of attorney and want to open a savings account.

Which accounts are open to someone with power of attorney? It registers a Power of Attorney on all savings accounts other than a Child Trust Fund (which must be managed by the parent or legal guardian).

What ID is needed? New customers must provide the same ID documents as any other new customer. Existing customers don’t need to provide ID documentation but Nationwide may ask for evidence that you have accounts with them. Here’s a list of ID documents Nationwide will accept.

Proof of Power of Attorney? If you’re opening a new account Nationwide originally said you’ll need to provide the original power of attorney certificate and two forms of ID for yourself and the person you have POA for. See below for their response. If you’re getting POA on an existing account you’ll need two forms of ID for yourself and the POA certificate.

SAVVY TIP: I asked Nationwide if they really need original certificates. Their own internal documents show that certified copies are acceptable (although they prefer originals) but their external website refers to 'original certificates'. The bottom line is that they will accept certified copies and, unless you're applying in a branch, that's what I'd do.

Sainsbury’s bank
Which accounts are open to someone with power of attorney? All savings accounts.

What ID is needed? If the relative you’re getting POA for already banks with Sainsbury’s bank, you don't need any ID for them. If not, you’d need to provide two forms of ID for them. To manage an account on someone else's behalf, you need to apply for Power of Attorney authorisation.

SAVVY TIP: If you give the bank an email address when the account has been opened it will register you for online banking and send out a username and an access code letter automatically.

Clydesdale/Yorkshire bank
Which accounts are open to someone with power of attorney? New customers can open an Instant Savings Account. Customers who have a current account or savings account can change the account name to show that they have responsibility to operate it e.g. ‘Mr Smith (appointed receiver / deputy) Receiver for Mrs Jones (protected person). If a customer has a current account and needs a savings account then an instant savings account could be opened.

SAVVY TIP: The interest rate on the instant access account is pretty poor at 0.1%.

What ID is needed? As long as the power of attorney is registered so there’s a registration stamp on the certificate the bank would only need you to produce standard ID.

SAVVY TIP: If you have a power of attorney but don’t have a stamp of the Office of Public Guardian or the Court of Protection, you’d need to produce ID documents for the person you have POA for. New and existing customers have to provide the same ID.

Which accounts are open to someone with power of attorney? Anyone acting under a power of attorney can open any savings account (including online).

What ID is needed? RBS/NatWest say they follow the British Bankers’ Association guidelines. So you'll need proof of the name and address of the account holder (if they’re not already a customer) and proof of the name and address of the person who’s acting under the POA.

SAVVY TIP: Documents to prove identity include a passport or driving licence for someone’s name and utility bills for their address. Otherwise, an entitlement letter from the DWP confirming that you’re in receipt of a pension, or a letter from an appropriate person (for example, the senior nurse of a care home) are OK.

Proof of power of attorney? You’ll need to provide evidence of power of attorney. The bank will accept certified copies of power of attorney as well as the original certificate.

Which accounts are open to someone with power of attorney? All savings accounts can take a power of attorney.

SAVVY TIP: New cash ISAs can’t be opened by someone who has a POA, although if your relative already has a cash ISA you can carry on paying into it on their behalf (as long as your relative has paid into it within the last tax year).

What ID is needed? Both you and the person you have POA for will need to provide ID and proof of address.

Proof of power of attorney? The bank will also need a certified copy or original of the POA certificate.

SAVVY TIP: If the person you have power of attorney for is an existing customer (say they have a current account) you may still need to provide ID documents for them as Barclays may not have recorded them on their system when the account was opened. Strangely, the longer they’ve banked with Barclays the more likely you are to have to provide their ID. You may ‘only’ need to provide a debit card but the bank says you should bring a driver’s license or passport ‘just in case’.

Which accounts are open to someone with power of attorney? All accounts can be opened with an enduring or lasting power of attorney. However they can only be operated by a branch or by phone.

What ID is needed?
Applications downloaded from the internet and posted to Santander will be processed and the POA added (as long as the correct ID and legal documents are included). You can find a list of the ID that's acceptable on the website.

Proof of power of attorney? The bank says it prefers original certificates of power of attorney but will accept certified copies.

Co-operative bank
Which accounts are open to someone with power of attorney? All accounts can be opened with an enduring or lasting power of attorney.

What ID is needed? ID documents are the same as any other customer applying for a savings account (you can find a list of the documents here).

SAVVY TIP: If the document says that accounts must be managed jointly (as opposed to ‘jointly and severally’ when any one of the attorneys can open it) the bank would have to register both attorneys and couldn't register one without the other.

Proof of power of attorney? The bank says that if you’re applying for an account face-to-face, you can bring original certificates of POA or certified copies. If you’re not applying for an account face-to-face you should only send certified copies through the post.

SAVVY TIP: I'm pleased that Co-operative bank spells out that you should only send certified copies of a POA certificate through the post. Others should be this clear.

The Post Office
Which accounts are open to someone with a power of attorney? All Post Office savings accounts. To apply for an Online Saver the customer must complete a hard copy application, which you can download and print off.

What ID is needed? The Post Office has to check your name and address. In most cases they say they can do this electronically and through background checks – however where these checks are not successful you have to provide original or certified copies of for example, your passport, driving licence, bank statement or utility bills. Where the relative or the person with the POA is already a customer (and where their name and address have not changed) the Post Office will try and use existing ID details.

Proof of Power of Attorney?To set up a POA on an account the Post Office must receive the original or certified copy of the POA.

Virgin Money
Which accounts are open to someone with power of attorney? All savings accounts can be opened with someone with a power of attorney, however, online accounts can only be opened and administered via the post (you have to download a form from the website and send it to HQ).

What ID is needed? Two forms of ID

Proof of power of attorney? Either the original or a solicitor certified copy of the POA document.

Skipton building society
Which accounts are open to someone with power of attorney? All branch based accounts can be operated by power of attorney. ISAs are restricted to POA related to mental or physical incapacity only.

SAVVY TIP: Skipton says that it doesn’t let attorneys open accounts online because of the increased risk of fraudulent of unauthorised transactions with power of attorney accounts.

What ID is needed? Existing customer with a new POA: two forms of ID if the account is opened face to face but three if it’s by post. If neither you nor the attorney have an account with the Skipton you’ll need to provide ID for both of you.

Proof of power of attorney? You need to provide the original POA document or certified copies.

SAVVY TIP: I was originally told by Skipton building society that only original certificates were acceptable, but when I queried this they confirmed that they would also accept certified copies of a POA.

Which accounts are open to someone with power of attorney? Any savings account including online accounts. Someone with power of attorney could also access their elderly relative’s personal bank account online if they have the appropriate proof of POA.

What ID is needed? If the relative you have POA for isn’t existing customer, you’d have to provide their passport, driving licence etc and a utility bill or bank statement. If your relative can’t visit the bank certified copies are acceptable. You, as the person with POA, would have to provide ID and address verification documents as well.

Proof of power of attorney? If an Enduring Power of Attorney is stamped by the Office of the Public Guardian within the last four months, you don’t need to provide ID documents for the person you’re opening the account for. If more than one attorney is appointed, the account must be opened for both of them.

SAVVY TIP: If you take over a relative’s online account, you’ll get a security number which over-rides theirs so they won’t be able to access or use the account.

First Direct
Which accounts are open to someone with power of attorney? All savings accounts (but no new borrowing is allowed).

SAVVY TIP: Be aware that if you don't already have an account with First Direct, you can only manage any accounts in writing. All requests must be sent in writing. If you already have a First Direct account you can manage your relative's account by phone.

What ID is needed? If your relative already banks with First Direct, they wouldn’t need any ID for them if you wanted to open another account. You would need to prove your own identity (sending originals) from the list: utility bill, bank statement or credit card statement (must be dated within the last three months) full UK driving licence (the card and the paper part must be sent together).

SAVVY TIP: First Direct says it does try and be flexible and recently opened an account for someone where the elderly relative had been in hospital for seven years and who had no ID at all.

Halifax/Lloyds TSB/Bank of Scotland/ BM Savings
Which accounts are open to someone with power of attorney? All savings accounts, although you can’t operate an ISA without a doctor’s certificate stating that the power of attorney has been taking out because of lack of mental capacity. Once the savings account is opened, it can be operated online.

What ID is needed? You would need to provide the same ID as other customers opening an account. There’s a list of acceptable documents here.

Related articles:

Banks have to take more care with people who lack mental capacity

What help is available if your parents have to downsize?

Understanding powers of attorney

SavvyWoman email newsletters: If you found this information useful why not sign up now to receive free fortnightly email newsletters with money saving tips and help? You can sign up at the top of any page on the website and your details won’t be passed to any other company for marketing purposes.

SAVVY HELP: Why not ask Savvywoman's panel of experts a question about your finances by clicking here? The answer will be displayed on the website but your surname will never be used.


Validate: What are HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest and Barclays?

Posted by lizzyk dated 2012-04-21 13:13:36
I have Power of Attorney for my father and my dealings with Lloyds would have won prizes as a comedy sketch.
Posted by Power of Attorney dated 2012-04-21 17:26:37
The Coop will not allow you, as POA, to operate the account ONLINE. This is completely useless when you live some distance from the relative and particularly when they operate SMILE as a purely online bank!!! I have complained to the FO as a result of their reply.
Posted by Power of Attorney dated 2012-04-21 17:34:04
Nat West won't allow you to open a new account for someone you already have POA for and where you have already registered POA on that person's other Nat West accounts. You have to have your POA registered for each individual account that person has with Nat West. This just creates more and more unnecessary paperwork and hassle for yourself.
Posted by Power of Attorney dated 2012-04-21 17:36:59
At the end of the day when you register the POA with the OPG you have a legal duty to manage their affairs in their interest and to keep full records. You can be potentially be prosecuted. In effect, you have unreserved rights to manage their affairs and the bank should treat you as if you were that person. How difficult is that???
In my dealings with a number of banks so far, I have not discovered ANY written documentation which they can provide which explain the procedures or any restrictions when registering POA.
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2012-04-22 11:20:53
Hi Lizzy,
Thanks for your comment. I'm sorry to say that your experience is not unusual. I've heard from many people who've had a lot of problems opening an account or adding their name to an existing one. With 200,000 powers of attorney registered last year, it's not like banks don't see this sort of situation regularly.
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2012-04-22 11:23:24
Hi Power of Attorney (1)
I wasn't aware that Co-operative bank wouldn't let you operate accounts online. I'll go back to them and get confirmation of this. I can completely understand your frustration and don't see why some banks are happy to let attorneys operate accounts online while others aren't.
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2012-04-22 11:25:13
Hi Power of Attorney (2),
Thanks for the comments about NatWest. As you say, it does create extra paperwork and hassle if you have to register a POA for each account you open and not just for the person you have attorney for. I'll try and find out if this is standard practice in the industry.
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2012-04-22 11:28:57
Hi Power of Attorney (3),
Thanks for your comment. I found that part of the problem when I was doing the research was that it was often difficult to find information on the banks' websites about POA and what you had to do to open an account. In one or two cases, as I've outlined, the press office gave me different information from what was on the website or from what they'd given me first time round. Not surprising that many relatives find it so frustrating...
Posted by dboywunda dated 2012-04-23 01:29:20
Santander Bank allow me to operate three online accounts for my mother-in-law, for whom I have POA. I operate her current account, savings account and ISA. Your claim, on BBC Radio 4 that Santander will not allow a POA to operate online accounts does not appear to be correct
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2012-04-23 21:56:07
Hi Dboywunda,
Thanks for your comment. I've just double checked the information I was emailed by Santander's press office and it definitely says that it does not allow power of attorneys to operate accounts online. As you've mentioned that you're able to operate three accounts online, I'll go back to them. I have found that several press offices have given me different information when I've queried specific points but all the information on banks or building societies I've uploaded into this article is based on written (emailed) responses to questions I submitted. Thanks for the tip off about Santander - I'll contact them tomorrow morning.
Posted by blackbeasthamish dated 2012-11-26 12:12:24
Cannot for the life of me understand why I was directed to this site from the NARPO website. I was looking for financial advice for everyone and not just for women. I would have thought there are far more male than female NARPO members. Very disappointed.
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2013-02-15 10:31:15
Dear Blackbeasthamish Thank you for your comment and apologies for the delay in replying, but I've been having problems with the spam catching software. I had no idea that NARPO linked to this website. Obviously, I’m pleased to have links from other organisations but I cannot control who links to my website. I’m sorry you’re disappointed with SavvyWoman, as many men who visit this site find it relevant to them .
Posted by Carol Wood dated 2013-04-24 17:03:36
I have a lasting POA for both parents and have to deal with several banks/building societies. I have run up against the Skipton refusing to let me operate my father's ISA account unless he is incapacitated physically or mentally. He is neither just totally absorbed being a full time carer for my mother. The Skipton say they are complying with HMRC guidance - but this cant be correct as other banks will allow an attorney to manage an ISA account. Any thoughts?
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2013-04-29 13:06:33
Hi Carol (Wood), Thanks for the question and sorry for the delay in replying but I was on holiday for a few days. I've done a quick bit of Googling and there does seem to be a rule that says ISAs can only be taken out if someone has a power of attorney for the ISA holder who has lost capacity. However, I'm getting this checked out with HM Revenue and Customs. As soon as I have the answer, I'll add it in the comments box. It's an interesting one, so thanks for bringing it to my attention.
Posted by Troy dated 2013-05-09 08:36:58
Here's my situation... I have LPA over my mother's finances which I applied for in October and got last week. She has three savings accounts with different banks. Up until late last year my sister was paying her utility and home care bills but because of a massive family row she said she no longer wanted to know. Mum's bills had to be paid so I applied for the LPA. I knew my sister's name was on Mum's books but she denied being a joint account holder. Went to the Halifax last week and guess what? They told me my sister was a joint account holder and I need her permission to access the account. She pays nothing into the accounts she just took out for Mum's bills. My argument that I was representing my mother's interests not my sister's didn't wash when I complained, but I understand their position. I don't have a JA with my husband, we never got round to it, so I don't know how it works. I'm more annoyed that I have to ask her permission and I'm waiting for the form to come back s
Posted by Troy dated 2013-05-09 08:40:24
I'm more annoyed that I have to ask her permission and I'm waiting for the form to come back signed - if it ever does. What do I do if she refuses? We're not speaking at all. Can't wait for the next experience with the other two banks and today I'm off to the Post Office to register as her appointed legal representative. All I want to do is pay Mum's bills!
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2013-05-12 07:29:59
Hi Troy, Thanks for your comment. I'm really sorry to hear about the experience you're having. That sounds like a nightmare. If you have power of attorney for your mum, you are acting as her so you can access the account. You effectively become the joint account holder. I'd be happy to help you - if I can - by contacting Halifax's press office. I would need your permission to do so. Please email me at sarah [at] savvywoman [dot] co [dot] uk if you'd like me to help.
Posted by Troy dated 2013-06-16 10:07:49
Hi Sarah, many thanks for your comment. The form did come back from my sister signed and I was able to proceed with the application, but when I approached Nationwide and Santander they were amazed. They said my sister's permission was not needed, even though she is also a joint account holder for those banks, too. In fact Nationwide was the smoothest transaction. I heard from them within a week and thankfully I was able to start paying Mum's bills. Halifax didn't notify me at all and when I went into the branch to enquire a couple of weeks ago they said, 'Oh, you'll be registered within forty-eight hours'. Eventually, after still not hearing, I flipped and lodged a complaint. They have now registered me and sent a small cheque for compensation. I now have a problem with Santander, who seem to want the signature of the third member of the family to be told of my intention to apply for LPA (there is no signature box for him, anyway, and the other two family members haven't signed, o
Posted by Troy dated 2013-06-16 10:09:35
Sorry :( Comment boxes not big enough. I have to gird my armour on to do battle with Santander as well as tear the Pension Service off a strip as well (another story!)
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2013-06-17 13:37:11
Hi Troy, Thanks for the update. Do let me know how you get on with Santander - and the Pensions Service. If you get stuck, either come back to me or - with the Pensions Service query, get in touch with the Pensions Advisory Service. They are very helpful!
Posted by Troy dated 2013-06-19 20:07:00
Thanks, Sarah :) Santander were very apologetic and say they saw their error and I should be registered this week (they will contact me if they have any further problems). The Pension Service I have to chase up again this week. If I don't have any satisfaction I shall certainly complain. Many thanks for your advice and I shall let you know how I go.
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2013-06-20 09:52:24
Hi Troy, I'm glad you managed to get it sorted with Santander. Good luck with the Pensions Service and let me know how you get on.
Posted by William dated 2013-08-12 14:28:00
Nationwide BS say they no longer allow Attorneys online access. This seems to have changed in the past few months (and without warning, and for incoherent/spurious reasons). So I am looking for another bank/BS for my Mother's current account, with online and phone access. Suggestions gratefully received (branch in Glasgow please, for initial set and in extremis thereafter). HBOS are out - their systems generally have been decaying since the first H+BofS merger, and their PoA systems in particular have been shambolic. After many years dealing with many banks/BS, I suggest that simply relaying what a bank/BS *says* they will do, is of little value. What's needed is evidence from attorneys who have received competent service recently.
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2013-08-13 07:34:16
Hi William, Thanks for your question. I've asked my Twitter following for some suggestions. A friend of mine dealt with Lloyds and NatWest - both opening new accounts and taking over existing ones and had reasonably good experiences with both (but interest rates aren't that competitive). I'll add more suggestions as I get them. I'll also contact Nationwide and find out why they've made the change. There's a booklet that the British Bankers Association and others have produced. I actually think that banks/bank staff need guidance more than individuals, but you can copy and paste this link if you'd like to download a copy:
Posted by William dated 2013-08-13 13:41:34
Thanks Sarah. Seems to me there are two types of bank/BS: (1) those with policies which would be attorney-friendly but whose staff and systems don't understand/follow the policies and (2) those with competent procedures and staff, but whose policies which are attorney-hostile. The Venn diagram of "competent banks" and "attorney friendly banks" doesn't seem to have much overlap! Looking forward: is there any official body, or campaigning group, who might have a role in forcing /nudging /guilt-tripping the banks into improving their dealings with attorneys? NB I am in Scotland - the OPG here does not have such a collective role.
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2013-08-14 10:22:29
Hi William, Thanks for your reply. I'll have a think and make some enquiries and see if I can come up with any suggestions. I do think the banks are a bit better with power of attorney accounts than they used to be, but there's still a long way to go.
Posted by Brian dated 2014-05-24 11:01:30
I have the power of attorney for my mum,but the bank sends her a Visa dedit card,is this correct.
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2014-05-28 10:37:47
Hi Brian,
Thanks for your question and sorry for not replying earlier. The short answer is 'no'. They shouldn't send your mum a Visa card. It should be in your name as you have power of attorney for her...
Posted by Steve dated 2014-12-23 15:40:18
I have been trying to get an LPA registered with Post Office Savings for ages. Problem is that they say send a certified copy, but when they get it they say it doesn't have the pin-hole validation mark on it so it is rejected. I complained to the PO but just got a straight bat response - they didn't even seem to understand the problem. Having complained to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) they sent me an "Office copy" which has the same legal status as the original. I am trying yet again with this.
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2014-12-24 09:43:28
Hi Steve,
Thanks for your question. I've got a certified copy of an LPA but I'm not familiar with or hadn't noticed the 'pin hole validation mark'. It's definitely not a problem I've come across in the past. If it's a certified copy it has the same legal status as the original (that's the whole point of certified copies, although banks don't always seem to realise this!). I can contact the Post Office for you - let me know how you get on with the office copy of the LPA.

The material provided on this website is general information that is intended for general guidance and is not suitable for professional advice.
You should always obtain independent financial advice.