A Child Trust Fund (CTF) is a long term, tax free saving account for children born between 1st September 2002 and 2nd January 2011. Families were given free cash vouchers from the Government of £250 or £500 to put into the account with family members also being able to contribute up to a current cap of £9,000 a year.
Any money held in the account belongs to the young person. They can manage the account from the age of 16 and can only take it out when they turn 18.
For those young people who lack the mental capacity to manage their own finances, a parent or guardian would need to apply to the Court of Protection to become a Deputy to allow them to access these funds. This process exists to safeguard and protect vulnerable people from fraud or abuse. With court fees however, starting from £365 and the process being burdensome, many parents do not feel it is worth the expense and stress.
The recent government announcement means that those families who need to manage the money in the Child Trust Fund account can ask for court fees to be waived and those who have already paid a fee will also be able to request a refund. A new working group has also been set up to consider what it can do to make the process easier and more streamlined for families who need to apply to the Court of Protection to access a Child Trust Fund account.
Justice Minister Alex Chalk said: "We want to reduce the obstacles families face in supporting young people who lack mental capacity".
Professor Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Chair of the National Mental Capacity Forum, said:
“The Mental Capacity Act offers important protections for vulnerable people who cannot make decisions for themselves.
We need to balance the needs of families with children with a learning disability with ensuring appropriate safeguards are in place. Improving guidance and removing the need to pay fees are welcome steps to providing that balance.”
Whether you’re charged a fee to access Child Trust Funds on behalf of the child who is lacking capacity depends on the age of the child when you apply to access the account as well as the amount the child has in savings and assets. The vast majority of those applications to the Court of Protection will not have to pay a fee if:
- They apply prior to the child’s 18th birthday
- They ask for a fee waiver through the Help with Fees scheme
- They ask for a fee waiver due to exceptional circumstances (this includes the Child Trust Fund being the only asset of the child, regardless of the amount) and where their monthly income is below £1,085.
For Court of Protection fees to be waived or refunded, a form will need to be completed which can be found here along with guidance on how to fill it in.
The form will then need to be returned to the Court of Protection, PO Box 70185, First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London, WC1A 9JA.
Here to help…
Moore & Tibbits has a highly regarded specialist Court of Protection team. We provide clear, practical and cost-effective advice in the following areas:
- Property and financial affairs in the Court of Protection
- Health and welfare disputes in the Court of Protection
- Information and advice regarding Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards
We are also able to offer legal aid services for community care issues
Please do not struggle along, call our team for a free initial telephone consultation on 01926 354704.