Best banks if you have Power of Attorney

If you have Power of Attorney and manage somebody else's finances, choosing the best bank for day-to-day use and any savings can be a challenge. We've full bank-by-bank help on how to register for access to existing accounts, plus the easiest banks to deal with if you're looking to open a new account.

This is the first incarnation of this guide. Please let us know your experiences using Power of Attorney, either with the banks listed in this guide or others. 

A Power of Attorney allows you to manage someone's finances

If you're reading this guide, it's likely you have a Power of Attorney (PoA) for somebody already, meaning you've been nominated to take control of their estate and finances if they lose mental capacity.

However, if you're yet to set one up, or you want to read more on the types available and and how they work in different parts of the UK, see our full Power of Attorney guide for detailed information. Here's a case study from one MoneySaver to bring this to life...

Get a Power of Attorney as soon as possible

This advice was invaluable to me. A friend hadn't done this for her dad and it was much more complicated and timely for her. She got it in time for her mum and it was so much easier.

I got my aunt's at the start of her dementia, when she was still aware, and it's the best thing we did. 

Having a Power of Attorney (PoA) in place means you'd be able to manage your friend or relative's (they're officially called the 'donor') bank and building society accounts, including their main day-to-day current account and savings accounts. This means you'd usually be able to:

  • Withdraw and pay in cash
  • Spend using a debit card or cheque book
  • Pay bills
  • Open or close accounts
  • Move money between accounts
  • Other general money management.

You'd expect to be able to access their accounts in the same way you'd manage your own accounts, so online, mobile banking, over the phone or in branch are all options. Though if the PoA has more than one attorney and has been set up 'jointly', where all attorneys must make decisions together, then access is often restricted to branch. 

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You'll need to register with each bank you need to access

Getting the Power of Attorney isn't the only step. Once you've got it, you'll need to register it with each bank you need access to, so that they recognise that you can legally make decisions on behalf of their new or existing customer. 

This will be the same for other services too, such as their energy company, though we're focusing on bank accounts here. 

To help make this as smooth as possible, read these top tips from MoneySavers who have already gone through the process. 

Register with the banks before you need to use it (where you can), as it can take a while to get access to every account

Make sure you get copies so you can forward these to all the relevant parties right at the start

It's worth taking the time to scan all the pages of the Power of Attorney so you have a digital copy, as many places want you to email it

How to register a Power of Attorney to access existing accounts

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Most people will start with getting access to the donor's existing bank accounts. 

Depending on how close you already are to their finances, you'll first need to make a list of all of the financial organisations they hold accounts with. Then it's a case of informing each one. 

The time it takes varies between banks, but expect it to take around 10 working days. It's therefore best to register in advance of when you'll need to access the accounts.  

You'll need to supply the bank with any documentation it asks for – which could mean posting or emailing copies. Always check with each bank, but broadly speaking, you'll usually need the following: 

  • Power of Attorney documentation or online code. This can be the original Power of Attorney document or a certified copy. If the donor is still able to make their own decisions, they can certify copies by signing and dating each page (see the exact wording to use), otherwise it usually needs to be done by a solicitor (see how to certify a document) . 

    For a PoA registered in England and Wales since 1 January 2016, you also have the option of using an online access code – you can view or request access to this by creating an account on Gov.uk.

    Banks can then use this to instantly verify your PoA, though not all banks will accept it (for example, if there's special instructions, preferences or restrictions listed on the PoA), so do check. 

  • Proof of your identity, unless you're an existing customer. This is so the bank can set you up with a customer profile. If you already hold accounts with the bank, you might just need to pass its verification (such as logging in via online banking, or entering your debit card's PIN), though if you're new, you'd usually need to provide:

    • One or two forms of photo ID (such as a UK driving licence or passport)
    • Proof of address.

It's then a case of contacting each bank. Unfortunately there's no standard way to do it, so we asked the major banks how their processes work, and the best contact number if you run into trouble.

If you'd prefer (or have) to go into branch, it's best to book an appointment, telling them it's to register a Power of Attorney. This way if they need someone with specialist knowledge of the process, they should have more time to prepare. Only the attorney(s) will be required to attend, and can usually visit at different times/locations if there are more than one. 

Bank-by-bank: How to register a Power of Attorney

Bank How you can register Timescale (after documents received) Contact details
Bank of Scotland Phone / branch
1 week 03453 000 051
Barclays Branch / phone / post 5 working days 03450 757 475
Chase

Phone / app message – attorneys manage via phone

No estimate given 0800 376 3333
Co-op Bank Post / branch 10 working days 0345 212 212 
Cynergy Bank Online 3 weeks 0345 850 5555
First Direct Email if using access code, or phone / post No estimate given 03456 100 100
POAregistration@firstdirect.com
Halifax Phone / branch
1 week 03453 000 041
Hargreaves Lansdown Email or phone if using access code, otherwise post 3 working days 01179 009 000 
client.recordssupport1@hl.co.uk
HSBC Online / branch 10 working days 03457 404 404
Lloyds Bank Phone / branch
1 week 03453 000 071
MBNA Phone / post
1 week 08000 859 131
Nationwide Post / branch 10 to 15 working days 08004 643 018
NatWest Online / branch 5 to 10 working days 08000 514 176
NS&I Post No estimate given 08085 007 007
RBS Online / branch 5 to 10 working days 08000 514 177
Santander Online / post / branch – max of two attorneys.  5 to 10 days 0800 414 8414
Skipton Building Society Post 7 working days 0345 266 1209
Starling Bank Phone / app message / email / post – attorneys must also have or open a Starling account.  1 or 2 days

help@starlingbank.com

0207 930 4450

TSB Post / video call (if using access code) / branch 2 to 3 days 0345 835 7513
Tesco Bank Phone / email 5 to 10 days 0345 678 5678
Virgin Money Post / branch 5 working days 0800 345 7365
Yorkshire Building Society Post / branch No estimate given 01274 472220

Correct at 13 March 2023.

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Best banks to open a new account with

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Once you've got access to the donor's existing accounts, you can decide whether or not you want to stick with them.

For example, you might want to keep all of their cash in one place (though see Safe Savings if the total is more than £85,000, as it's safer to split it), move money to an account with a better interest rate, or you find one of the banks easier to deal with than the others.

Either way, in many cases, you can use your PoA to open new accounts on your donor's behalf, even where they're not already a customer – though not all banks or savings providers will allow this (see our table below for full info).

For those that do, you usually need to register the Power of Attorney at the same time as requesting a new account, so you'll need to provide:

  • ID and proof of address of the donor. If the bank can't verify their identify electronically, so the bank can create a customer profile (which is standard practice for account opening).
     
  • Your own ID and proof of address (unless you're an existing customer). This is so a profile can be set up for you as well, though if you're an existing customer you might just need to pass the bank's identification process (such as taking your debit card and entering your PIN).

  • Power of Attorney documentation. So usually the original, certified copy or the online access code if registered in England or Wales.

The best banks for Power of Attorney, as rated by you

In addition to asking the major banks for their processes, we wanted to know how easy each bank made it in reality, as we often hear of horror stories. Harnessing the collective power of MoneySavers, we had over 20,000 responses to our survey (thank you to all that took part), rating their experience of:

  • Registering a Power of Attorney
  • Managing accounts once access had been granted
  • Opening new accounts with new and existing providers.

We then took the scores to calculate an overall satisfaction score, the results are below.

Important. This table shows which banks are easiest to deal with if you want to operate an account using Power of Attorney, not necessarily which have the best accounts or pay the best interest. So take a look at the below, then see if that provider appears in our Best bank accounts and Top savings guides. 

Top rated banks if you have Power of Attorney

Bank Overall Power of Attorney service rating (1) Can you set up an account if the donor isn't an existing customer? How to open
Banks that offer bank accounts and/or savings.
Bank of Scotland 80% (great) No, donor has to be an existing customer If the donor is a Bank of Scotland customer, you can open new accounts online / phone / branch (depending on your access)
TSB 79% (great) Yes Branch/ phone/ online
Lloyds Bank 76% (great) No, donor has to be an existing customer If the donor is a Lloyds customer, you can open new accounts online / phone / branch (depending on your access)
Halifax 74% (great) No, donor has to be an existing customer If the donor is a Halifax customer, you can open new accounts online / phone / branch (depending on your access)
NatWest 73% (great) Yes In branch
Santander 71% (great) Yes In branch
Nationwide 69%
(good)
Yes In branch. You can only open a current account once a savings account has been opened. 
HSBC 65%
(good)
No, donor has to be an existing customer If the donor is an HSBC customer, you can open new accounts online / phone / branch (depending on your access)
Barclays 60%
(good)
Yes In branch
Virgin Money 46% (OK) Yes Post / branch
Savings-only providers. 
Coventry Building Society 80% (great) Yes Call 08005 874525, apply by post or in branch.
Skipton Building Society 66% (good) Yes Post / branch
Yorkshire Building Society 64%
(good)
Yes In branch, two of donor's ID + 1 proof of address required
NS&I 51% (OK) Yes Post, or online if existing customer with PoA already registered.

(1) Our service percentage rating is based on at least 75 votes, where service users rated their overall experience as 'great', 'OK' or 'poor'. Total of 20,429 responses. 

Power of attorney FAQs

  • How do you manage accounts if there are multiple attorneys listed on your PoA?

    It is very common practice to have more than one attorney listed on an PoA to act on your behalf in case something happens. Banks will be able to accommodate this when registering multiple attorneys in the event that the donor loses mental capacity. 

    How you make decisions will depend on the powers you are granted on your PoA document. If all attorneys are listed as 'jointly', then all must agree when making decisions on behalf of the donor.

    If listed as 'jointly or separately' this means that all attorneys have the right to make decisions on the donor's behalf without the need for unanimous decision-making. 

    Often if there are multiple attorneys who must make decisions 'jointly', you will all have to attend a branch appointment to manage the donor's finances. 

  • Is there a max number of attorneys you can list on one account?

    Typically there are no limits to how many attorneys who can be registered with the donor's accounts, though some banks do limit you to two or three, so it's worth asking first.  

  • What if the donor banks with an app-based bank?

    There should be no barriers to accessing a donor's bank accounts in the event that they lose mental capacity, however it is slightly trickier if they are existing customers with some app-based banking providers. 

    Chase, for example, requires attorneys to register and manage accounts via telephony – and therefore does not grant access to the donor's app. 

    For other providers such as Starling Bank, it is required that attorneys must be existing customers or open accounts with Starling before they can access the accounts. 

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