FAQs

Making the application

How long does it take for authority to be granted?
Does the adult need to know I am applying to access their funds. Is a copy sent to them?
Can solicitors claim fees for preparing an application to operate under the access to funds scheme?

The adult's accounts

What is the difference between a current account and a designated account?
Does a designated account have to be in the same branch as the adult’s current account?
What happens if the adult has several accounts?
Can I gain access as a withdrawer to more than one of the adult’s bank accounts?

Who can be appointed?

Can a financial guardian apply to become a withdrawer?
Can other withdrawers be appointed after authority has been granted?
Can a nursing home apply to access the funds of a resident under the Access to Funds Scheme?

Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) appointees

I am a Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) appointee, do I need to apply for Access to Funds?

Fees

Does the Public Guardian charge a registration fee?
Can I apply for exemption of the registration fee for making an Access to Funds application?

Information and Guidance

What can help can we provide help?
What other information and guidance is available?

Making the application

Q. How long does it take for authority to be granted?

A. We will send a copy of the correctly completed application form to the adult, nearest relative, primary carer of the adult, and any other person who the Public Guardian considers has an interest in the application. A period of 21 days is allowed for any objections to be lodged. If no objections are received, we aim to grant authority and issue a certificate of authority within 25 days.

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Q. Does the adult need to know I am  applying to access their funds? Does a copy of the application have to be sent to the adult?

A. We are duty bound to send a copy of the application to the adult. The only exception would be if there is medical advice saying that this would pose a serious risk to the adult's health. Two medical practitioners require to confirm this by assessing the adult and completing medical certificate SSI no. 79. It is not enough to say that the adult would simply not understand the application or that it would upset them.

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Q. Can solicitors claim fees for preparing an application to operate under the access to funds scheme?

A. The access to funds scheme is specifically designed as a low cost option to provide assistance to clients without the need for a formal approach to the court. We have a dedicated team who are specifically trained to provide advice, guidance and assistance throughout the process at no cost to the customer.

However, it is recognised that some clients may wish to employ the services of a solicitor. The Public Guardian has agreed that a one-off capped fee may be claimed from the adult's funds and any costs over and above that amount should be negotiated between the client and the legal representative. This fee is currently capped at £330 inclusive of VAT but excluding outlays.

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The adult’s accounts

Q. What is the difference between a current account and a designated account?

A. A current account is the existing account in which the adult’s funds are presently held while the designated account is the one which the withdrawer will open on behalf of the adult and into which the funds agreed will be transferred.

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Q. Do I need to open a designated account in the same branch of the bank or building society as the adult’s current account?

A. No. You can use any bank or building society. It may be more practical and convenient to use your own bank or building society although you should bear in mind that there may be a delay in setting up the designated account and transferring funds into it if the bank or building society is different. It will be helpful to the staff there if you give them the booklet A Guide for Fundholders which is sent out with your certificate of authority.

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Q. What happens if the adult has several accounts?

A. It is possible to apply to transfer funds between existing accounts in the sole name of the adult and to close such accounts if necessary. This is useful, for example, where old accounts contain some funds but no interest is being paid.

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Q. Under the access to funds scheme, can I gain access as a withdrawer to more than one of the adult’s bank accounts?

A. Only one current account may be accessed to provide funds for a designated account, which, for example, pays the adult's bills. However it is possible to apply to transfer funds between existing accounts in the sole name of the adult and to close such accounts if necessary. This is useful, for example, where old accounts contain some funds but no interest is being paid.

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Who can be appointed?

Q. Can a financial guardian apply to become a withdrawer?

A. When a financial guardian's appointment is about to expire or the financial guardian identifies that guardianship is no longer appropriate, the guardian must consider the least restrictive method. If authority is still required to make decisions on behalf of an adult and financial guardianship is not appropriate, the financial guardian may apply to access the funds belonging to the adult under the Access to Funds scheme. This can be done by completing form ATF Transition of Authority.

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Q. Can other withdrawers be appointed after authority has been granted?

A. Yes, although you will need to complete another form.

Additional joint withdrawers can apply to us to be appointed.  Reserve withdrawers may be appointed for specified periods when the sole withdrawer is not available to carry out duties, for example, if they are going to be out of the country for a prolonged period of time.

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Q. Can a nursing home apply to access the funds of a resident under the Access to Funds Scheme?

A. No. Nursing Homes which are authorised establishments under Part 4 of the Adults With Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 (Management of Residents Finances) must operate in terms of Part 4 and cannot operate under the Access to Funds Scheme.

If the Care Home is not registered to use Part 4 of the Act, they cannot apply under the Access to Funds Scheme and another way to manage the adult's finances will have to be considered, for example, Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) appointee or other individual or organisation making the application.

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Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) appointees

Q. I am a Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) appointee, do I need to apply for Access to Funds?

A. If you are DWP appointee and are already receiving the adult’s benefits, it may not be necessary to apply to access the adult's bank account.

However if the adult has savings or income from another source, e.g. an occupational pension, access to funds may be required in addition to DWP appointeeship. Any funds authorised under the access to funds scheme must be paid in to the designated account and kept separate from the appointee's account where the benefits are paid.

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Fees

Q. Does the Public Guardian charge a registration fee?

A. Yes. The fee can be found in the fee table.

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Q. Can I apply for exemption of the registration fee for making an Access to Funds application?

A. There are circumstances where you might be entitled to a fee exemption.

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Information and guidance

Q. What can help can we provide help?

A. We will be happy to assist you with your enquiries or help you complete an application form. Contact Us

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Q. What other information and guidance is available?

A. A Guide for Organisations is available for organisations who have demonstrated they are fit and proper to operate the access to funds scheme.

The Scottish Government provide a Code of Practice for persons authorised under Part 3 to access funds of an adult. It is highly recommended that all applicants and those appointed read this.

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