I have twins, but one of them couldn’t access their child trust fund money because she is disabled

Posted in: Corporate

When parents Wendy (57) and Rob Stone (54) started saving into their children’s child trust funds, they had no idea that their daughter Leah would be unable to get her money due to her disability, while her twin brother Jack would have no problem. As the pair turned 18, Wendy contacted OneFamily for advice, which has since helped Leah access the funds.

Before Leah and her twin brother Jack were born just over 18 years ago, myself and my husband Rob didn’t know there would be any complications. While Jack was a healthy baby, when Leah was born we found out she had Down’s syndrome and has since been diagnosed with multiple other learning difficulties. More recently, doctors have said she may have autism and dementia.

This has led to many challenges for us as a family over the years, but something we never expected was that Leah would be unable to access her child trust fund when she turned 18.

It hasn’t been easy, and Leah spent the first year of her life in hospital, but she now goes to a special needs school in Bristol.

Leah is such a practical joker and loves doing silly things to make people laugh. Her favourite lesson is P.E and in her spare time she absolutely loves watching WWE. She’s a big football fan too and is obsessed with Everton – despite her brother Jack and dad Rob both being Liverpool fans! For her 18th birthday I contacted Everton to see if we could get some tickets to one of their games. I didn’t really expect a reply so I was shocked when they invited us to come for the day and meet the players. We even had a tour of the ground and they treated us to breakfast – it was such a great day for all of us.

We had been saving into Jack and Leah’s child trust fund accounts for years, but shortly before they both turned 18, Rob read an article online about how people with disabilities were unable to get their money due to the Mental Capacity Act. We started looking into it and realised that, because Leah is disabled, we would have to go through the lengthy and expensive Court of Protection process. This would involve filling out pages and pages of forms and forking out hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds for solicitor’s fees.

I was so upset and frustrated that we would have to face this process and it seemed so unfair, particularly as Jack – who had grown up in the same house, with the same family and was born on the same day – would not have the same issues. The disparity is really obvious and wrong. The scheme was set up by the Government to help people, so we couldn’t understand why people like Leah are being discriminated against – why was she being treated so differently?

We knew the Court of Protection route would be very difficult so we thought it might not be worth the hassle as we already have enough day-to-day pressures with looking after Leah. I worked as a medical underwriter for 41 years but recently took early retirement, in part so I could spend more time looking after Leah. Rob works in pensions and is supporting us as a family but we would have been unable to afford the solicitor’s fees. Without help from OneFamily we might have considered not even trying to get the £6,000 in her account.

Shortly before Leah’s 18th birthday, we called OneFamily to ask for some advice. They were so helpful, made the process as simple as possible and we received the cheque within two months.

Now we have the money, we are looking forward to a big family holiday next year to create happy memories with Leah. We haven’t been away since before Covid, and although our holidays might look a bit different because of Leah’s additional needs, we can’t wait to get away as a family.