Financial advice

My sister is 51 and has learning difficulties, she lives with my 76 year old step father and I live over 200 miles away. They own their home, I own my home too and when my stepfather and I are gone with no family around I am seeking help regarding managing her finances. She has never paid a bill in her life, no concept of costs either (she could not believe we pay water bills as it rains so must be free). Do I set up a trust so bills go to a professional body and get paid? Any advice greatly appreciated

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Would she be able to live on her own? For my brother, we set up a trust fund, but you need people to manage the trust on her behalf. If she is receiving benefits, there is a limit to the amount of money she can have in her name, so the amount in the trust must reflect that, otherwise it will affect her benefits. However for this to work you main worry would be the appointment of trustees (usually three) who could access the money on her behalf. Also for bills, a bank account with automatic payments for water, electricity etc would work and the trustees could ‘feed’ the account as required. My brother knows nothing about money so I had to totally manage it, but if your sister can handle money that raises other questions that I am not competent to answer. I hope this helps.

Thank you for your reply. My sister does receive benefits and has no idea when it comes to money or the value of items so she would need help. She has never used an oven , only microwave as her meals have been provided all her life by parents. I will start looking into a trust fund and ask my father to have her name added to his bank account as that is where the utilities are paid from. Kind regards

You need to set up a Discretionary Trust, look on the Mencap website or ring and ask for their advice as they give regular talks around the country about Wills and Trusts. Also if you live in the area of a local Mencap, like us in Reading Mencap, you may find a local Mencap who has a Family Support Service where a Family Adviser can help you to get an assessment of need from your local authority under the Care Act. This way there will be support for your sister to stay living on her own or perhaps in supported living. It is very complicated so you will need help, but there are lots of voluntary organisations out there, ask Mencap where your local Mencap is.

I’m on it , appreciate your help with this . Been putting it off long enough now. Cheers

You may find making contact with Sibs useful. It’s an organisation for brothers and sisters of disabled children and adults.

They have produced several guides which support you with some of the key issues you are dealing with or may experience in the future as an adult sibling. It can be found here:

One, in particular, is very relevant to what you are asking.

Looking after money: When your disabled brother or sister needs support to manage their benefits and funding

Here is their description of the guide:

Many people with a learning disability and/or autism need support to manage their finances and to help them receive the right benefits. This can be complex and confusing for siblings, particularly if you are taking on this role from your parent. This guide will give you information about the types of financial support available for your brother or sister, including benefits, grants, and personal budgets. It will also tell you about the different types of special legal permissions you need in order to manage someone else’s finances or to make financial decisions on their behalf.

Another organisation which has produced several resources which may help you is DOSH.

They describe themselves as “supporting people with a learning disability to be able to manage their money. We provide financial advocacy, appointeeship for benefits and account management for self-directed support budgets. We believe that everyone should have personalised support to use their money in the way they want and for the things they enjoy.

Here is a relevant fact sheet they have produced:

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Hi @Ianl,

How are things going?

You are not alone in what you’re going through, so many siblings of people with learning disabilities find themselves researching this topic to help make sure their brother/sister has a good set up in life after they are gone.

As others have said, do try Sibs guides:

  • As well as ‘Looking after money: When your disabled brother or sister needs support to manage their benefits and funding’
    I’d also recommend:
  • Decision-making and the law: When your brother or sister can’t make a decision, who does? (as it’s helpful to understand the capacity process)
  • Keeping savings safe: When your disabled brother or sister can’t manage a large amount of money, who can? (info on wills & trusts)

All can be downloaded here.

I’d also recommend the mencap wills & trusts services as others have mentioned.

All the best,

Thank you wholeheartedly everyone who has offered information , now I know where to start. Stay safe.