Paying the price for supporting an older relative

Pricewatch: One woman incurred hefty bank charges after adding her son to her account

A reader contacted us in bafflement after his mother suddenly found herself paying AIB bank charges because his name had been added to her bank account to help with financial matters in the future.

He says he had added his name to her bank account so that if anything happened to her – if she died, or suddenly became ill, or physically or mentally incapacitated – the family would have access to her bank accounts.

The family were prompted to act because his mother “had issues when my dad passed away several years ago, so doesn’t want us going through the same ordeal”, he writes.

His gripe is that while AIB provides free banking to those over 66, the offer is taken off the table if a person who is under the age of 66 is added to the account.


“My mother got her fee statement recently, and for the year she is being charged €73.10. She did speak [to] her local AIB branch and they advised it was because I was named on the account, and I have submitted a complaint on the AIB website today asking for clarification.”

We decided to go in search of some clarification ourselves.

“We encourage our customers to think about planning ahead, particularly for a time when they may need support with their banking, and there are a number of options available,” a spokeswoman said. “We are always available to meet with our customers and a family member or carer. Our customers or their carers can contact us at our additional support line and arrange to come in and talk through their situation.”

She also pointed us to the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland’s Safeguarding Your Money guide which provides advice on managing everyday banking, involving a carer or other trusted person and setting up an enduring power of attorney. The guide includes the pros and cons of various options. It says that with a joint account, the money is “typically owned by both parties to the account and it may not be the most suitable option”.

“Also, if someone is caring for one of our customers and no arrangements have been made in advance, they should contact us. We understand how difficult this situation can be and we will do everything we can to make sure our customer continues to have access to their money for their benefit.”

While we do not have access to the full details of this family’s circumstances, an enduring power of attorney is certainly an option more people should look at in circumstances such as this.

Just 6 per cent of Irish adults have one in place. It is a legal document that provides for family or trusted friends to step in and make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to do so for yourself.

An enduring power of attorney means a person can appoint one or more people to make decisions on their property, financial affairs and personal welfare. It can either be a general power or with certain specific elements of care ruled in or out – so someone might have the power to manage your finances and where you should live but not what you can eat or whom you can meet.

The powers can be wide-ranging and very hard to reverse once activated, unless a court is persuaded of abuse of the power or the ability of your chosen attorney to continue to carry out their duties, so it is essential to choose who makes the decisions carefully and after consultation.