Child Trust Funds and Mental Capacity Q&A

Contact recently hosted a live Q&A session with lawyers Myra O’Neill from Foresters Financial and Philip Warford from Renaissance Legal. 

Contact’s Policy & Campaigns Director Una Summerson quizzed Myra and Philip for an hour on an issue arising for thousands of families, whereby young people turning 18 who lack mental capacity are becoming locked out of their savings accounts.

You can watch the recording here and we’ve also provided a full transcript of the session below, including some quick links to the key questions that were asked.

In this article

Una –

Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for joining us today for this Child Trust Fund and mental capacity event. Please do post your questions and we’re going to do our best to answer as many as possible. But I just wanted to make you aware that we can’t provide individual financial advice.

I’m Una Summerson, I’m the Campaign Manager at Contact and I’m really pleased to be joined today by Philip Warford from Renaissance Legal. And also Myra O’Neill from Foresters Financial, who is a Child Trust Fund provider.

Just to set out the basics first, Child Trust Funds are a tax free savings account that was set up by the government back in 2005.

The government paid into Child Trust Funds and extra amounts were paid for disabled children and many parents will have paid money into these accounts as well. Savings can be accessed at 18. However, unfortunately some there’s some difficulties for some young people who lack mental capacity. It might involve a court application, but this isn’t always the case.

Before we start answering your questions, I just wanted to pay credit to Andrew Turner, a parent who has been leading the campaign to unlock savings in Child Trust Fund accounts for disabled youngsters who lack mental capacity, and who’s been working tirelessly, He’s been meeting with government ministers. He’s been speaking out in the media and he recently provided the BBC with some quite shocking stats that 80,000 disabled children could be locked out of their savings, worth £210 million. I just wanted to say a huge thanks to Andrew for everything he’s been doing to try and find a solution to this.

I’m going to start by asking Philip from Renaissance Legal to explain:

What mental capacity means and how it can impact on accessing savings in Child Trust Funds and Junior ISAs.

Philip –

Well, thanks Una. So in the context that we’re talking about today, we’re talking about mental capacity when someone reaches 18, because that’s the time that the Child Trust Fund matures. And so it goes from an account being operated, perhaps by the parents, to something which they have access to themselves.

The problem that we have, and that lots of you will have who are watching today, is that when your child gets to 18, your child won’t necessarily have legal capacity to manage the account. And that might be because they’re disabled or vulnerable, so they may not have the capacity to manage that account.

Now capacity in this context stems from the Mental Capacity Act, which actually relates to people from the age of 16. The whole point of the Mental Capacity Act is to empower people to make decisions for themselves, but also, it puts in place a framework of what needs to be done when someone doesn’t have capacity, in terms of things like accessing assets and taking health and social care decisions. For our context today, we’re looking at someone reaching 18, with a Child Trust Fund, or indeed a Junior ISA, maturing and then whether that individual has capacity or not to be able to access that.

Una –

Thank you for Philip for setting that out.

For parents of a child that lacks mental capacity, what are their options when it comes to accessing their savings?

Philip –

Well, the Mental Capacity Act says, and this is one of the things that we’ve been campaigning about, it says that if the child doesn’t have capacity at 18, then the only option available to the family is to apply to the Court of Protection for an Order to be able to manage that on their behalf. And that’s something that we identified at Renaissance legal back in 2014/2015, and is where the whole campaign came from.

So the Court of Protection application is there to enable families to access funds, but it isn’t the most straightforward. It’s been streamlined recently and it’s a lot more straightforward than it was. But there is a process that you have to follow and that’s the whole point of the campaign, which most of the watchers will have heard about.

We’re trying to encourage the government to change the law to find a simplified procedure for families to access Child Trust Funds when they mature at 18 and when that child doesn’t have capacity – without going through the Court of Protection.

Una –

So am I right in understanding Philip, that it’s not always the case that a parent would have to go through the court process? I can see that we’ve got a question – if being a DWP appointee is enough to access savings a Child Trust Fund, or indeed a Junior ISA.

I’m wondering, Myra, if I could bring you in here to answer that question

Whether being a DWP appointee is enough to access savings?

Myra –

So yes, it can certainly help if the parent is the DWP appointee. We tend to look at these on a case by case basis. We will ask for other documentation as well. We tend to look at smaller funds because we do still have to protect the planholders and funds and from these vulnerable, well young adults. So not in every case, but it would be one of the questions we would be asking when we look at each case to say, have you got these documents?

Una –

Thanks, Myra. So if a parent has a DWP appointee, is their child appointed? That means that they won’t necessarily be able to access their savings, but as I understand it my some of the Child Trust Fund providers are using that as a as a sort of measure to safeguard and protect young people, but so they can. Act but still. And access their savings.

Could you talk through the process you have for accessing a Child Trust Fund for a child who lacks the mental capacity?

For example, if I was a parent and my child had a Child Trust Fund with Foresters and it’s been established that my child lacked mental capacity, so they won’t be able to access their funds. What would I do if I if I rang you, what would you say?

Myra –

Yes, so firstly Foresters Financial has enormous sympathy for families in this situation where they cannot access the funds.

They do have to apply for a Court of Protection order and sometimes that will be our response, but we do look at some cases and ask if the parent is the DWP appointee.

If so, we will perhaps see if they’ve got evidence to show that they might be receiving payments into their account from the DWP. We might also ask for medical evidence to confirm that the plan holder is unable to do that payment themselves due to mental incapacity.

We may ask for a birth certificate to confirm that they are the parent.

We may ask them to fill in an indemnity form. We might ask for evidence of the plan holders bank account.

It is quite a lot of documentation, but it depends on each case and we do look at each case individually.

If the plan holder does have an account at Foresters Financial and they are coming up to 18, they are best to speak to our customer services.

It differs case by case, but that’s usually the process.

There is still documentation that we require, but only to protect the funds of the plan holders.

Una –

That’s really interesting to hear.

Are all Child Trust Fund providers following a similar process to Foresters Financial?

Myra –

As far as I’m aware, there are a few and we are trying to have the same process as those other providers such as One Family.

Una –

Yes, we saw One Family on the BBC report last week, the CEO was talking about why they are trying to act to help families access funds. Rather than going through the Court of Protection. So that’s really positive.

I think the key message here is, if you know who your Child Trust Fund provider is, you should give them a call to explain your situation and they’ll talk you through the options.

If you don’t know who your provider is, you can find your provider on the government website and my colleagues will post that in in the chat here today.

Is it the same issue for Junior ISAs?

Philip –

Yes, it is correct. And a number of years ago, the government allowed parents to move the Child Trust Fund into a Junior ISA. So some people will have Child Trust Funds and some people will have Junior ISAs. Some families would have opened up separate Junior ISAs for their children. It’s the same principle that the savings is there for the child, and although the person operating the account can change providers up to the age of 18. When the account gets to maturity, that is when the question of capacity arises. The whole point about applying to the Court of Protection for an Order will apply to Junior ISAs as well as Child Trust Funds.

Una –

I can see that there’s some questions that are coming up around these topics.

What forms need to be filled in to go through the Court of Protection, what costs are involved and how long it takes?

Philip –

The first thing to say is take a big slurp of your coffee, because despite what people say, it’s not the world’s simplest process.

I showed Una earlier, I printed off the forms, I’m not sure if we can see how many pages there are in these forms, but it took me roughly 10 minutes to print them all off.

Give me 5 minutes or so to explain the process. The process went online earlier this year, so now families can do the application online and where it’s clear there’ll be no capacity at 18, families are actually encouraged to start the process early, probably about 17 would be good.

There’s a whole bunch of forms and I’m going to go through them just one by one. I’m going to try not to take too long.

The first one is called a COP3 form. And that’s an Assessment of Capacity form. And that’s because when any application is made to the Court, there always has to be reassurance to the Court that the individual that we’re talking about doesn’t have capacity. So you won’t do anything unless that is completed.

The next one is called a COP1A and that is a supporting form for Property and Affairs applications. Now we’re looking today at just the Child Trust Fund or Junior ISA application. And quite helpfully the government has a sample one on its website to show you what you can do or what sort of information is in it. But basically, it’s things about the child, about you being the person applying, about National Insurance numbers, how much is in the Child Trust Fund, how much income is coming through from benefits and such like.

The next thing then is called a COP4, and that’s a Deputy Declaration, because when you’re applying to manage someone’s funds, you have to give to the Court quite a lot of information about you so that the Court can feel assured that you’re an appropriate person to make this application. So it’s things about whether you’re bankrupt, whether you’ve got this sort of thing for anybody else, and then a whole bunch of undertakings that you’ll conduct yourself appropriately and in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act.

So they’re the three starting things. Then as part of the process you must give notification to at least three people. There’s a sort of hierarchy of family members who will fill those categories, that’s all downloadable, so I won’t bore you with that. They have to get a notice sent by you saying that you’re intending to make this application. And the reason why that’s done is to give some element of independent protection, so that if there is someone unscrupulous doing something, these people who have got the notice have a chance to say to the court “No hold on, the person applying is not great, we shouldn’t do this”. And at the same time, you have to also notice the person that you’re making the application about again, just to check that they don’t have capacity, that they don’t have any objection.

Now, once you’ve got all of that together and the forms are on the government website.

Now the question is, whether you need a lawyer or not?

And the answer to that is you don’t need a lawyer because all of the forms are downloadable from the government website. And my take on it is, if you fancy it, try it, have a go and if it’s not so great and you’re not having a great time doing it, then go to a lawyer.

So once you’ve got all that information together. You’ve taken your big slurp of coffee, you’re ready to upload all the information onto the government website. And just to add a couple of tips with that, the government website does not allow you to save, go away and then come back. That’s why it’s important to get all of your information together first.

If you’ve got all of those forms and they’re all completed, that is all of the information you will need to. You will need to actually upload these forms as well, so once you’ve got them, make sure you save them and then they can be uploaded.

Another tip is that the portal where you’re loading them up times out after 30 minutes if it has not been active for that period of time. You can’t save and go away and come back if you don’t have all of the answers.

Do give yourself at least an hour or so to do all of this uploading and make sure you’ve got all of the information ready.

The application fee itself is £371 but there are certain exemptions. One of them is if you start the process when your child is 17, and this is because the Child Trust Fund or Junior ISA has not matured, so the value is deemed to be nil. When you look at the exemptions from the fees it’s based on the value of the fund. So if the value is nil, there’s no fee to pay. Equally, if it’s a small fund value under £3000 then there’s also no fee. Then there’s a bit of a sliding scale above that value.

There’s a form to make sure you claim that the exemption and that is called a COP44A.

Now final thing and then I will stop I promise you. Is that when you’re applying, you’ve put all of this these forms in. The court are saying that they’re taking roughly 8 weeks now to come back to you, but there is another couple of forms that you could think about doing, and one is called a COP9, which is also called an application notice and that gives you a chance to put some more details in.

This is perhaps would be where you look at saying, OK, well, maybe I need a one-off Order rather than a full deputy order. We won’t perhaps have time to get into the difference too much today. But a one-off Order might be appropriate where there’s £2000 in an account and Zach needs a trike, and the trike costs £2000, so please allow me to get the money out, buy the trike and then we can call it quits. Nothing further needs to be done.

A full Deputy Order is more for where you’re managing the money on an on-going basis. We’ve seen that on some of the press that we’ve been involved with, where the individual’s needs are so limited that the Child Trust Fund can’t really be spent on them, or it will take quite a few years to spend it on them. So the COP 9 is quite handy.

And then the final one, and I promise you….Is a COP24, which is a witness statement. That gives you a really lovely opportunity to fill in details about your child, about the family circumstances, anything that doesn’t readily fit into any of the other forms and anything that you want to give to the Judge because we’re talking here about a paper-based application. Most applications we come across are paper-based and so when we’re sending this in, we’re thinking about a Judge that knows nothing about us, nothing about our family circumstances. So give the Judge as much information as you possibly can about what you want, why you want it, why you need it, and your circumstances, because then they can make a really good, quick, effective decision that should help you out.

Una –

Wow, thank you Philip. That was a lot of information. I’m quite overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork that’s involved. It sounds like it’s a really lengthy, quite a complex process to go through. But if families work can work through it and they know what to expect, I think there’s some really good tips in there about it timing out and it’s good to prepare everything ahead of time. That’s really important advice to have everything prepared beforehand.

And I think that’s it’s really good to know about the fees and and why it’s so important to start the process earlier than 18, so you don’t have to pay those fees.

Are there ongoing fees involved?

Am I right in saying that if you become your child’s deputy, that there’s some other things involved?

Philip –

Yes, so if you could get the one-off Order then that’s quite nice and straightforward saying “Can I have this money to spend it on this”.

But if you’ve got a full Deputy Order, then you will have to take out a Deputy Bond, which is kind of like a mini insurance policy. That is something you pay for out of that individual’s money. So it’s not something you pay for yourself because it is due from their money, to pay back to them if someone who’s managing it is unscrupulous and strips it all and runs away with it. It ensures that the individual that we’re trying to protect is fully protected against every eventuality. And sometimes that’s a one-off premium, sometimes that’s every year.

There are also supervision fees.

There’s a lot of ongoing things that would usually come into play for that bigger Deputy Order. So when we’re going to the Court of Protection, we as advisers really try and look to see whether there is a way that we can make sure that what is there can be paid so we can get one off order or indeed we could perhaps get it and spend it, maybe within a couple of years on things like adaptations. The days out, the holidays, things that means-tested benefits don’t necessarily cover. Those luxury type items and improving of someone’s quality of life. If we could get the money in and spend it relatively quickly, then we can minimise the impact for the family.

Una –


Is there a guarantee that the court would do a one one-off order if it was just for a small amount for something specific?

Philip –

No, there’s no guarantee, it’s a case by case Judge by Judge application. That is again why when you’re making that submission, think really carefully about what you’re asking for, and look at those forms and putting the information in there to at least give the Judge that reason to say “Oh I can see this one is perfect for a one off Order”, because if you’re not doing that, then you’re not really giving the Judge everything that they need to make that decision.

There’s no guarantee as Myra said, this is a case by case. This is a judge by judge application. So you need to give them a lot of information, use all the forms. For want of a better phrase, bury them in paper. This is a paper application so give them so much information that they don’t come back for more.

Una –

We’ve got a question from Nicki asking:

Should I apply for a Power of Attorney or a deputyship?

Philip –

We would always say that if you can get a Power of Attorney, then please do it.

So again, stepping back to the Mental Capacity Act and to introduce this concept of what’s called a Lasting Power of Attorney. That came into effect in October 2007, it’s split between financial decision making and health and social care decision making.

We’ll perhaps concentrate on financial decision making just for this answer. It’s something that you can only do from the age of 18. There is prep that you can do, but it’s the age of 18 that you can do it from.

For the Court of Protection Deputy Application, you can start the process early, but you can only do a Lasting Power of Attorney from the age of 18.

A Lasting Power of Attorney is something whereby you give authority to someone to take decisions for you. So if I’m doing a Lasting Power of Attorney to give authority to my wife, or indeed to my children, it is my document. I have to have capacity to create the Power of Attorney. There’s lots of guidance about what capacity looks like to do this, and that is very different to the capacity to manage assets because capacity to do something is looked at in isolation to what the question is and whether you can do it at that time.

In terms of Child Trust Funds and Junior ISAs, we’re looking at the individual – that young adult child and saying at 18 “Do they have capacity to create a Lasting Power of Attorney”?. If they do, and also if they’re willing to do it because that’s the other thing, they may be able to because they may have capacity, but they may not want to engage or do it.

Then they can create a Lasting Power of Attorney giving authority, perhaps to their parents, to manage their assets on their behalf. Again, it’s something that’s downloadable from the government website, so you don’t have to have a lawyer doing it. Sometimes people find it quite complicated, so they will go to a lawyer. If we can get that done for someone who has capacity, then it avoids going to the Court of Protection.

For some people, particularly those with learning difficulties, they may not have capacity at 18, but they may have capacity at 20 or 21. So it may be for some families that they say, “Let’s not apply to the Court of Protection when my child’s 18, because with a little bit of education and development they may have capacity a little bit later to be able to give a Lasting Power of Attorney”. Then we circumvent the problem of applying to the Court of Protection.

In this case the Child Trust Fund is there, it’s safe, it’s developing, it turns into an ISA. So it’s matured because we’ve gone past 18, but it’s still safe. For some people we may look at the individual and say “Let’s just wait a little while before we apply”.

It’s a really great question and the very quick and simple answer is yes, if your child can do a Lasting Power of Attorney at 18 go with that option because it’s cheaper, quicker, more effective, and it saves you going to the Court of Protection.

Una –

That’s so helpful.

There is a question here that parent Louise is asking:

Shouldn’t Contact be making it easier for families to sort this out, instead of having to go through yet more stress and expense?

Philip –

Definitely. That’s why we’re all here together today and we’ve been campaigning together.

Along with Andrew, the parent that’s been leading this, and Foresters and One Family. It’s been a really joint effort campaigning for a simpler solution to this.

That’s why we’re asking families to sign the petition that Renaissance Legal have set up. And we’re asking families to write to their MP’s. As I said at the beginning, Andrew Turner has met with the Minister Mike Freer, while we’re doing lots of media, and the media are behind us.

I couldn’t agree more that the process needs to be much less stressful and for families.

Una –

Myra, it’s so positive that Foresters are releasing funds without the court process.

Could you explain why Foresters become involved with this?

Myra –

From the beginning, when we first started paying out the first Child Trust Funds, this was one of the queries that was raised almost immediately. And quite rightly. Parents were getting quite frustrated at being told “No, you need to apply for a court protection order. Do you have a Power of Attorney?”. Especially for some plan holders, this will be the only finances that they’ve got. They won’t have another large financial transaction to do, and it is a lengthy process.

We are working with Tyson and the ministry. We’re watching very closely to see if the process will be eased in the next coming years, and we haven’t seen much change to that process.

We ‘re looking at this case by case, trying to show empathy and trying to do what we can to get some of the accounts paid out, until a better process is in place.

Una –

That’s really helpful to hear. On the back of the campaign, we’ve had some parents get in touch with us and their MP’s have taken up the case. We had a situation whereby one of the parents had a Junior ISA (some people have also asked if there a difference between Child Trust Fund and a Junior ISA, and it is the same issue). She approached her bank and at first they were saying “No, no, you have to go through the court process”. But her MP took up the case and now the bank involved are trialling a new process, and they’re using a GP form, their appointee scheme as a safeguard. So it’s really positive that other parts of the financial industry are following Foresters and One Family on this.

It would be great if all providers could be following this scheme and then that might persuade the government to actually introduce a simpler scheme.

I don’t know whether Philip you’ve got anything to add on:

Why you started off this campaign all the way back in 2016?

Philip –

What we’re highlighting here is the absurdity of saying that someone can be in an Appointee for a number of years and manage a big package of benefits. And then when it comes to a few thousand pounds, which invariably the parents have paid for themselves, because that’s what the government encouraged them to do. They said, “Here’s a few pounds out into an account, now please as parents save into that account so when your child gets to 18, you can access it”. It’s the absurdity of saying you can be an Appointee, but you can’t access the money that you probably saved yourself, or indeed the grandparents did. And so that’s where we’re coming from on calling for this simplified procedure and that’s where lovely Foresters, One family are saying, “Yes, it’s absurd that we can’t bring them together” and I think it may be a good chance just to reinforce that because with the consultation, and lots of our watchers will know that there was a consultation. Just looking at the figures, there were 223 responses to the consultation that looked at the small payments scheme, and 87% of those that responded said that we need a small payment scheme. 87% said that it would be positive for disabled people and 89% of the people caring for a disabled person said it would be positive for them.

I think there’s so much around this, where we as people who are supporting families know that it’s absurd. We’re trying to encourage the government to change the law.

At the moment, what they’re saying is the Mental Capacity Act and the Court of Protection Deputy route is there to protect people who are disabled and vulnerable. That is absolutely correct. And we’re not saying that that that is not correct. What we’re saying is “Can there not be some concession in this area where there seems to be a really easy answer to enable families?” They have their hands full, their lives are complicated and we’re just adding in an extra complication.

It is the complete absurdity of the Appointeeship, where thousands of pounds are being managed each year that way. I think the average is £2300 in a Child Trust Fund, and they’re saying that the parents can’t access it. And that to me seems absurd.

Una –

I think we all feel really passionately about trying to find a a solution to this.

I think that point about weighing up the admin of trying to access what is on average, around a couple of thousand pounds.

What we’re saying to families is to try it yourself if you can face it, because if you go to a lawyer, the fees are going to be a so much that it won’t be worth it, economically it just doesn’t balance out.

So to go back to what people ask us time and time again.

Do you need a lawyer?

Philip –

You don’t because the forms are downloadable. The process is there, but if you do go to a lawyer and the savings only a couple of thousand, then you will lose the vast majority of that Child Trust Fund by paying the lawyer’s fee.

Una –

Really good advice. And why again, it’s so important to speak to your Child Trust Fund provider or someone like Foresters who will assess the situation on an individual basis and actually use the DWP appointee scheme.

Going back to the campaign question is why there’s one bit of the government saying this and another piece of the government saying that. We’ve been saying “Why can’t the appointee scheme be extended. It’s the same government, isn’t it?”. And as you know, most of the parents that will be in this situation will already be an appointee. So let’s just extend that.

A lot of the money in the low-level Child Trust Funds will be public money, so it works in that way as well.

I’m going to go back to some of the questions, and there’s no silly questions here.

A parent is asking if every child has a Child Trust Fund? Her son is 18 and she’s not heard of them.

Una –

Basically, if your child is aged somewhere between 12 and 20 that they will have had a Child Trust Fund. You can find out the provider by using the governments website and we’ll post that link in the chat as well.

So it’s all children born between September 2002 and January 2011, and that’s everywhere anywhere across the UK.

I just was thinking about the difference between some of the UK nations.

I understand that in Scotland there’s a slightly different process.

What the difference is in Scotland?

Philip –

No, I don’t because I only operate in the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales. I’m sorry. It’s a good question.

Una –

I know that the Scottish law changed to enable families to access accounts easier than it is in England and Wales. Also the Mental Capacity Act relates to England and Wales and not to Scotland. They’ve got different acts over there so.

There are charities that we can post links to that can help give advice to families that are in Scotland or the other jurisdictions of the UK.

But the laws are in a little tiny bit easier in Scotland. We know that if you live in Scotland you can use the. As the fun scheme. I think it was back in May 2021 that the Scottish Government saw the problem and actually acted and said families can use the access to fund scheme in Scotland. There’s some information on the contact website about that.

The Scottish Government have sorted out the problem, made it easier for families. So that’s why we’d like to see that happening in the rest of the UK.

I’m pleased that we’ve brought in the differences across the UK, so court protection is England and Wales, and it’s a slightly different process in Scotland. And again my colleague will post the link to what happens in in Northern Ireland if there’s any parents listening or watching from Northern Ireland.

There’s a parent asking whether you can get legal aid for this process?

Philip –

No. Legal aid over the years has been broken down and broken down. So the quick answer is no you can’t to get legal aid these days for this type of issue.

Una –

OK and I’ve got a question here:

If my child doesn’t have mental capacity to manage their bank account, do I need to get a deputy ship to have PIP paid into that account?

I think the answer is no on that. It’s the DWP appointee scheme for benefits. And there’s some information on the Contact website about what becoming an appointee involves. So please do have a look at our website there.

Let me have another look for another question.

Philip –

While you’re doing that, we should also encourage people, if they haven’t done it already, to become Appointees, because it’s a passport into a lot of different things that can then help manage your child. Accessing the funds via Foresters, One Family is all down to the Appointee scheme. So if you’re not the Appointee, I’d imagine it’s probably 99% of the people who are watching today will be, but if you’re not, do make sure you apply directly to the DWP to get authority to manage the benefits package of your loved one.

Una –

That’s thanks for clarifying that.

To open a really important point. Diana is asking:

If my young person agrees to move his money to a joint account, will the building society question this?

Myra, can you shed any light on this question?

Myra –

That’s when the funds are actually being claimed I assume, and who we pay them to? I can only speak for Foresters Financial and we will usually only pay to an account for the actual plan holder, or if it’s a parent savers account with the plan holders name on it.

I think as long as the plan holder was named on the account and we assessed the case to see what other documentation they had.

I wouldn’t want to say that in every case we will pay the joint account because in some we won’t.

The key point is speak to your provider, and every financial institution I would imagine will have various rules and it’s not to put unnecessary blockers in place, because the whole point is that we want to help but again.

We don’t want to make those statements freely without looking at the case to see will we even pay it out in the first instance.

Is the person receiving payments from the DWP and they can show us the statement. So there’s lots of information that would need to be assessed first before we could answer that.

Una –

So the key message is speak to your provider.

And you’re doing everything that you can to make it make it as easy as possible for families to access the savings.

Does this issue relate to other savings accounts that are in the child’s name?

Myra –

Again, each financial institution may vary on what savings plans they have, but the majority of ours would be Child Trust Funds and Junior ISAs. That’s where we come across this issue, not with any other savings plans, but I know there’s lots of other providers with lots of other child savings plans.

Una –

Yeah. Thank you.

As Myra said quite rightly, there are lots of other different savings account but the unique nature of the Child Trust Fund and Junior ISAs is that they are frozen for the individual until they get to 18. So although it’s growing and you can change providers but you can’t actually take it out. Whereas the other ones, invariably the parents operate the account and can spend it on the child.

Philip –

So when we as advisors can see this as a problem and there’s not a Child Trust Fund or Junior ISA, and the parents can spend it before the child gets to 18, we’re sort of encouraging them to do that so that we don’t crystallise that problem.

So Myra’s absolutely right. Speak to your provider. Find out what you’ve got and therefore what options you have around those accounts before the child gets to 18 because when the 18 hits, that’s when the whole thing crystalises.

Una –

That’s the key message from this afternoon, look at your options before your child’s 18 and then seek that financial advice. But if at 18 you need to make some decisions about how the money is managed, there could be different options depending on your circumstances. In some cases your provider will help you access the funds by using the DWP appointee scheme in a much simpler process. It might be a lasting Power of Attorney is right, or indeed it could be the Court of Protection process in England and Wales and equivalents in the UK nations.

That’s really helpful. I’m just quite conscious of time now.

There’s a question here from Nicola saying:

She’s the appointee for her daughters PIP, and has cheques that have been given as gifts that are stuck in her savings account unable to access them.

I hope some of that the information we’ve provided today here is useful on your options. If your daughter is 18 will either be Power of Attorney or a Court of Protection order, or speak to your Child Trust Fund provider.

If your daughter’s still under 18 then this would be a good opportunity to look at what you’ve got and what your options are there.

So let me see if we’ve got any other questions that we haven’t answered.

Philip –

While you’re doing that, I will just quickly say one thing. The Ministry of Justice issued a toolkit a couple of weeks ago and that prompted a lot of media interest. The toolkit for parents is ‘Making financial decisions for young people who lack capacity – a toolkit for parent carers’. And the toolkit itself is actually really good and very helpful.

We are certainly saying it’s a really great thing that it’s all been brought together. The information is there, so do go on to the Ministry of Justice website and download that.

What it doesn’t do for us is cure the problem of accessing funds. It just brings together everything as a sort of an information guide for parents in an easy, readable way. It backs up everything we’re talking about today, but it doesn’t solve the problem of what we’re trying to change or get the government to change to make easy access. It’s a good thing just to highlight that the information is there.

Una –

Thank you Philip for highlighting that.

Yes, it’s a really straightforward document. It sets out some of the things we’ve been discussing today about the difference between the lasting Power of Attorney and the Court of Protection. Some useful links in there definitely, it’s useful but it’s not going to make the process significantly easier for families.

I’m not sure if we’ve touched on it, but some of the forms ask for GPs to help complete. And we hear from families all the time that GP’s can sometimes ask families to pay a fee for filling out forms for parents.

So that’s another reason why we’d like to see a simpler process.

Philip –

Yeah, it’s the assessment of capacity. It’s the first form I spoke about, because you can’t do anything until we know that the individual in question doesn’t have capacity.

I’ve just pulled it in front of me. The form itself says that you’re getting this opinion from someone, a practitioner, maybe a medical practitioner, for example your GP, a psychiatrist approved mental health professional, a social worker, psychologist, nurse or occupational therapist who has examined and assessed the capacity of the person who we’re talking about.

There are other categories that fit that, but you’re absolutely right in highlighting the fact that to do the Court Protection application, you have to have that as your starting point. Most GP surgeries now are saying they’re not prepared to do it because there is a risk in case they’re called into question, that they would have to say to the court “I’m happy. This is my opinion”.  That’s why most GP surgeries are now saying no.

Some paediatric specialists are really helpful to us and fill it in, but it does take time. Sometimes they charge, the charge could be £100 to £300. So again, this is an additional stress for the family and is something we want to try and avoid if we possibly can for such small amounts in the big scheme of things.

Una –

Thank you for that. There’s a couple of final questions and then I’ll ask it you both to sum up.

There’s a question here:

What happens if a child dies before they’re 18 and they’ve got a Child Trust Fund?

Philip –

Someone under 18 can’t make a Will. In England and Wales, when you die without having made a Will, your estate passes under the Intestacy Rules which give us a sort of family hierarchy of where that goes.

For a child under 18 it goes up to the parents. So if the parents would inherit it, depending upon the value, you might have to get a Grant of Representation from the Probate Court.

Sometimes you don’t have to do that. Foresters, One Family, and some other providers will have a simplified form when it’s a lower value, so you can claim it without having to get a Grant of Representation. But yes, there is a process to do that.

Una –

Great. Thank you. And I know that Renaissance legal has some webinars on wills and trusts, so we’ll post those links at the end of this session as well.

 There’s lots of questions around the whole issue around wills and trusts.

So Myra, what’s your key message for families listening.

Myra –

If your Child Trust Funded is held with Foresters Financial, we will look at each case on a case by case basis. We understand the frustration that parents are going through. We are very much hoping that a solution can be found to make the process easier. And in the meantime, we will do what we can.

I think you’re going to get our customer services contact details on the chat. And we will be working closely with the industry, trade bodies and keeping a close watch on everything that you’re both doing as well.

Una –

Thank you. It’s really positive that the finance industry are really helping out here and Philip, what’s your final key message?

We have one last question in from Catherine and I think you’ve already touched on it, but it’s a really good question to finish on.

How long does the Court of Protection take to make a decision?

She applied in February.

Philip –

If she applied in February, it’s likely she applied in paper form under the old system because it was around February that they released the digital system. The online digital system, which as we know is not fully digital, but is an online system. The court are saying that it takes around 8 weeks to hear back. So if she’s applied in February, I’d imagine she applied under the old style paper based system, which you still have to do for lots of things. But that’s way out of today. That could take 6 to 8 months, sometimes a year, and that’s part of the problem that we identified earlier on, which is why we encouraged the government to move forward and put this new system in place.

So she would probably have the paper application, so 6 to 8 months. So February, March, April, May, June where we’re at. You’ve probably got another couple of months before you hear anything.

But a really good question as it also identifies the fact that we’re looking in isolation at Child Trust Funds and Junior ISAs because there’s different types of applications for loads of different things.

And if I may, my one takeaway would be. Prep, prep, prep. So if you’ve got a child coming up towards 16 or 17, start looking and you if know for sure that your child at 18 is going to have capacity because if that’s the case, then we can do a Lasting Power of Attorney. And that’s really great.

If my child, maybe at 18 not going to have capacity, but give them a year, they could, in which case, let’s just postpone and delay everything and then revisit it at 19.

Or is it very clear that that my child’s not going to have capacity, in which case then, you know, crack on and speak to your provider and see whether there’s that simplified procedure or indeed if there’s not, because you’ve perhaps got a bit of a higher value in your Child Trust Fund or Junior ISA, then start the process for the Court of Protection Order early. Because that will really help you.

Una –

Yeah. Thank you. And from Contacts point of view, we’re going to keep on at government on this.

Do come to us for advice, we’ve got you know lots of information on our website, we’ve got a helpline et cetera.

And I’d be really grateful if anybody that’s still watching us could complete the evaluation form because your feedback will help us be able to offer more of these types of events. And on the evaluation form, there’s that an area where you can suggest what you’d like to see. It might be “Please get Philip and Myra back for another session”. So we would be really grateful if you can do that and as I said, do book on to the Renaissance Legal webinars.

My colleague on our helpline said they were really good and have had lots of positive feedback from parents.

 And again, just getting in contact with you your Child Trust Fund provider.

Thank you both for giving up your time this afternoon and it’s been really great to chat to you.

This is the first time I’ve done a Facebook live and I think I’ve got a lot to learn.

Sorry if I didn’t get to your question or I didn’t articulate your question properly, but we’ll do our best to answer everything.

Thank you and goodbye.