Can I help my mother with her finances?
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My mother is quite frail now but is still perfectly capable of looking after her own financial affairs. However, she seems to be feeling quite detached from her investment portfolio and is happy to leave everything in the hands of her financial adviser without questioning anything. I’d like to ask the adviser to keep me in the loop as well. Is that allowed?
Douglas Bridges of Smith & Pinching responds:
It is not uncommon for people to become less engaged with their finances as they get older, provided they have plenty to live on. However, it is still important for your mother to understand and be involved in any investment decisions that need to be made.
I absolutely appreciate your concern and it may be beneficial for you to attend any meetings she has with the financial adviser, but this must be with your mother’s consent. While she has full capacity, her financial affairs are confidential, so her adviser will be unable to discuss them in detail with you without her consent. Nonetheless, it may be useful to have a conversation with her adviser to raise your concerns so that the adviser can take them into consideration when meeting with your mother.
When advising older or frail clients, a financial adviser should always be on the alert for signs that your mother has become what we would term vulnerable. She may be considered vulnerable if she has become unduly open to being persuaded to take action without giving it due consideration. Other vulnerabilities might include physical or mental health issues, family pressures, bereavement, big changes in circumstances such as moving into care or, in fact, anything that is sufficiently out of the ordinary to cause someone to behave in a less rational manner than usual. Most firms have very strict procedures to safeguard vulnerable clients and will involve family members where appropriate.
My best suggestion at this stage is to have a discussion with your mother about her finances and the provisions she has put in place. You can reassure her that you are not prying, but that you are keen to ensure you are aware of her financial arrangements so that you can step in if she ever needed you to. If she agrees to you attending meetings with her adviser, be careful not to take over, so that she can still feel in control.
This is also probably a good time to talk about setting up Powers of Attorney if she hasn’t already done so, so you can deal with her finances if she were to fall ill or begin to lose capacity. Once again, it is important that you stress this is for support reasons rather than because you think she is unable to cope.
Any opinions expressed in this article do not constitute advice.
For more information, please visit www.smith-pinching.co.uk
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