How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

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drzzzzz
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How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by drzzzzz »

hi
my mother has severe dementia and my father is getting more forgetful with mild dementia. I have power of attorney for both of them and wanted to understand how to execute the power of attorney at a bank (Bank of America) to write checks. Can I just write a check and sign my name by power of attorney or do I need to give the bank a copy of the power of attorney prior to signing checks and does the bank need to do something with that to make me eligible to sign on my parents account? Thanks
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cheese_breath
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by cheese_breath »

Phone BOA and ask them. You'll probably have to go to the bank with your POA papers, and if they like them they'll issue their own POA for the checking account. They you get new checks printed including your name as POA.
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increment
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by increment »

drzzzzz wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 10:43 pm Can I just write a check and sign my name by power of attorney
No. (Would you really want the bank to let anyone unknown to them sign checks on behalf of their customer?)
does the bank need to do something with that to make me eligible to sign on my parents account?
They may tell you that they need to have their lawyers study it and decide what may be done. Probably they will tell you that it is much, much simpler to have the customer fill out the power-of-attorney form that they have already prepared. (Is your father currently capable of doing that?)

Five years ago there was a New York Times article on this subject, called Finding Out Your Power of Attorney is Powerless.
RetiredAL
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by RetiredAL »

drzzzzz wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 10:43 pm hi
my mother has severe dementia and my father is getting more forgetful with mild dementia. I have power of attorney for both of them and wanted to understand how to execute the power of attorney at a bank (Bank of America) to write checks. Can I just write a check and sign my name by power of attorney or do I need to give the bank a copy of the power of attorney prior to signing checks and does the bank need to do something with that to make me eligible to sign on my parents account? Thanks
You are likely to need to use the bank's POA/agent form, not an external lawyer written POA.

Years ago, my parents made me joint on their banking and savings accounts, thus the bank recognizes my signature. Mom is long gone, Dad is declining and is in assisted living, but as joint I have full management and control of those accounts.

In updating stuff last year via my Dad's lawyer, the lawyer brought up the status banking accounts. He was happy when I said "joint". He said that with my Dad's bank, Wells Fargo, he had to go so far as to get a court orders to get a POA agent recognized.
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cheese_breath
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by cheese_breath »

DW had a checking account at Chase, and I had her POA when she was in the nursing home. Made an appointment first and then went to Chase with the POA. They had someone review it and decided it was a valid POA. Then I filled out the Chase application in front of them and walked out about an hour later all approved by Chase.

edit: They didn't give a new POA letter. Just updated their files to reflect I was POA on the account.
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Jablean
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by Jablean »

Did anyone need to give the bank a doctor's opinion that the original person was incapacitated? What's to stop someone with POA from taking over the account much earlier even if original person thought they would only do so if incapacitated?
bsteiner
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by bsteiner »

Jablean wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 4:40 am Did anyone need to give the bank a doctor's opinion that the original person was incapacitated? What's to stop someone with POA from taking over the account much earlier even if original person thought they would only do so if incapacitated?
That would depend on what the power of attorney says. Most are effective immediately, but some only become effective if a condition (such as the one you describe) occurs.

Note that you can no longer create a springing power of attorney (one that only becomes effective if a condition occurs in Florida.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by RickBoglehead »

There are two sides to take care of. One is to get control of the checking account.

If doctor(s) certify the incapacity, then you want that info and the POA (if Springing) to give you access to ALL financial accounts.

Second, you need to remove access from the incapacitated so they can't simply grab the next checkbook in the box, or walk into (or call) a financial institution and conduct business.

I'd recommend using the financial institution's free online check writing.

The POAs we used in Michigan required two physicians certify incompetence. We used them when it became necessary for financial AND medical decisions (separate documents). We got 3 physicians.

FIL gave us immediate POA before being declared incompetent, as he had no interest, nor ability, to handle financial matters. Never did, his wife did everything.

While it may be ok to be joint on a checking or savings account, do not do that on a mutual or brokerage account, or an asset like a home, without understanding the legal and financial ramifications of that. You could ruin the cost basis adjustment when a person passes (for example, a joint account with parents gets a child added, parent passes, and cost basis of a third of assets is changed, not half, because of 3-way ownership). Consult an attorney if necessary.

As for your father, start watching out for problems like predators. We shared cell service with my father in-law who had mild dementia. He started receiving unusual calls including to a minister. He was unspoken in his lack of interest in religion, so we noticed. Ended up calling the minister and explaining that we were paying attention. No further calls came.

Watch medication usage. Consider going on doctor appointments. If they are in assisted living, remove all monies that impaired person has access to (once declared). FIL wanted cash to pay aides, MIL wanted cash for bingo. Facility prohibited money from being used for anything. We ensured FIL had a very small amount of cash because he insisted, and we checked it regularly. When it started disappearing without explanation, we removed it.

Edit: I wanted to add one more example. My in-laws had checking and savings accounts with a bank for many decades. Bank got bought out several times, and they had grandfathered accounts. I, with their permission, monitored the local bank accounts online, and I had agent authorization on their investments. One statement I noticed that their account types had changed, and they were now paying a monthly fee. I contacted them and they said they had done nothing. I called the bank (small town branch) and they said that my in-law's had signed paperwork to change the accounts. I called my in-laws back and they said they had not. Got the accounts changed back. Visited them within a short period (80 minutes away) and on the table is a copy of the signed form that they never signed. Neither had diagnosed dementia. Neither was declared incompetent by doctors. Both were easily swayed by those in authority. Very scary.

Best wishes. Very hard to deal with. Been there. Parents revert to kids. Tough to experience.
Last edited by RickBoglehead on Thu May 06, 2021 7:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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ResearchMed
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by ResearchMed »

cheese_breath wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 11:53 pm DW had a checking account at Chase, and I had her POA when she was in the nursing home. Made an appointment first and then went to Chase with the POA. They had someone review it and decided it was a valid POA. Then I filled out the Chase application in front of them and walked out about an hour later all approved by Chase.

edit: They didn't give a new POA letter. Just updated their files to reflect I was POA on the account.
This is similar to how Schwab handled things when we moved MIL closer to us, and she told him that she no longer wanted to deal with "her affairs".
Schwab accepted (after a bit of review by someone, somewhere) her own DPOA.
They didn't make us use "their own form", and they didn't issue any other document.

This could be especially important if the elder is already incapacitated, as they wouldn't be able to execute a valid new POA document.

They didn't make it difficult at all, unlike some other fiancial institutions (er, one starting with 'v" comes to mind :annoyed )

RM
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cheese_breath
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by cheese_breath »

Jablean wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 4:40 am Did anyone need to give the bank a doctor's opinion that the original person was incapacitated? What's to stop someone with POA from taking over the account much earlier even if original person thought they would only do so if incapacitated?
It depends on how the POA is written. DW's POA gave me very broad powers.
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drzzzzz
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by drzzzzz »

Thanks for all the useful information so far - very disappointing that there are so many potential hoops to go through to use a POA. Very amusing that they are drafted then the individual institutions prefer to use theirs or want the original drafter to present in person when the reason it is being used is that person is unable to.
HomeStretch
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by HomeStretch »

My parents and I made an appointment at BofA with a copy of their lawyer-drafted DPOA to allow me to handle their checking (with BillPay) and savings accounts ASAP. Due to the time it would take to have BofA legal review the DPOA, the bank manager told my parents it would be much simpler and less error-prone if I was added as a co-owner. It wasn’t my first choice of how to handle it but that’s the option we went with. It has worked well for 5 years.

The combined account balances are ~$20k (small). Siblings are fine with it (if inherited, I will split evenly with them). Co-owning the account wasn’t an issue for me as far as judgments/bankruptcy/college aid.
bsteiner
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by bsteiner »

drzzzzz wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 10:33 am Thanks for all the useful information so far - very disappointing that there are so many potential hoops to go through to use a POA. Very amusing that they are drafted then the individual institutions prefer to use theirs or want the original drafter to present in person when the reason it is being used is that person is unable to.
It's getting better. Some states allow you to recover legal fees if you have to go to court to enforce the power of attorney. The idea isn't that you can go to court, but rather that the bank will think twice before putting up obstacles which may cost them money.

The best solution is to give the bank a copy of the power of attorney when it's signed, long before it's needed. That way, if they need to run it by someone higher up, they'll be able to do that long before it's needed.

Also, if you're willing to take the increased risk that the agent will misbehave, you can make the power of attorney effective immediately, so the agent doesn't have to prove that a contingency has occurred.
tibbitts
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by tibbitts »

How many cases are there where you are writing checks vs. having the bank write and mail them through billpay?
dbr
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by dbr »

I have power of attorney on a relative's checking account.

To obtain this it was necessary for the two of us to sit down at a desk at a bank branch and fill a copy of the durable power of attorney form for our state with the POA limited to only that specific checking account. The form was then signed by my relative and notarized by the bank employee. They would not have accepted a general DPOA as such even if we had one, which I do not want. It could be very difficult to accomplish this if the person is not longer competent to execute a POA.

I have had the checks printed as

Relative Name
My Name, POA
Address, etc.

I sign them My Name, POA

Part of the sit down at the bank included putting that account in view on my online access. I can also electronically transfer money in and out.

In another case a relative obtained POA for one of their family members by going to court and getting custody of the estate and custody of the person. Until it was too late the person involved refused to grant a POA. With a court ordered custody you can go to a bank and possess a person's property as custodian.
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by RetiredAL »

My experience from two occasions with Wells Fargo, they were a pia. To the point that I moved my Dad's 2 IRAs from WFA to Schwab. Schwab was quite willing to open accounts and transfer the WFA accounts to them, all based on existing POA paperwork. The second request went somewhat better when they were at first requiring "all present" to sign, hard to do under Covid lock-down rules. The local branch mgr got involved, she was aware of the WFA IRA issues I had, and coordinated with another branch mgr to allow a signature to be done at the second branch. All signatures had to be with a color pen to prove they were original.

Even with these hiccups, I still find that Wells Fargo has very convenient linkages between the taxable trust investment account, checking, savings, and credit card, for ease of managing Dad's finances. I've been quite happy with their day-2-day operations.
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ResearchMed
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by ResearchMed »

RetiredAL wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 12:40 pm My experience from two occasions with Wells Fargo, they were a pia. To the point that I moved my Dad's 2 IRAs from WFA to Schwab. Schwab was quite willing to open accounts and transfer the WFA accounts to them, all based on existing POA paperwork. The second request went somewhat better when they were at first requiring "all present" to sign, hard to do under Covid lock-down rules. The local branch mgr got involved, she was aware of the WFA IRA issues I had, and coordinated with another branch mgr to allow a signature to be done at the second branch. All signatures had to be with a color pen to prove they were original.

Even with these hiccups, I still find that Wells Fargo has very convenient linkages between the taxable trust investment account, checking, savings, and credit card, for ease of managing Dad's finances. I've been quite happy with their day-2-day operations.

Isn't that "colored ink (preferably blue but *not* black") way out of date?
I remember that from the days when all copies were only possible in black and white (or gray), but no colors. Now, if someone isn't being watched in the act of signing, it's so easy to insert a signature and also make it "not black".

I'm not sure how the online notaries work... using Zoom or such, so they can attempt to match your current face with the mug shot on your DL or Passport?
I know TIAA accepts online notaries and has at least two that they recommended to us last year, but turned out we didn't need that.

RM
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RetiredAL
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Re: How to Use Power of Attorney for Checking Account

Post by RetiredAL »

ResearchMed wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 1:02 pm
RetiredAL wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 12:40 pm My experience from two occasions with Wells Fargo, they were a pia. To the point that I moved my Dad's 2 IRAs from WFA to Schwab. Schwab was quite willing to open accounts and transfer the WFA accounts to them, all based on existing POA paperwork. The second request went somewhat better when they were at first requiring "all present" to sign, hard to do under Covid lock-down rules. The local branch mgr got involved, she was aware of the WFA IRA issues I had, and coordinated with another branch mgr to allow a signature to be done at the second branch. All signatures had to be with a color pen to prove they were original.

Even with these hiccups, I still find that Wells Fargo has very convenient linkages between the taxable trust investment account, checking, savings, and credit card, for ease of managing Dad's finances. I've been quite happy with their day-2-day operations.

Isn't that "colored ink (preferably blue but *not* black") way out of date?
I remember that from the days when all copies were only possible in black and white (or gray), but no colors. Now, if someone isn't being watched in the act of signing, it's so easy to insert a signature and also make it "not black".

I'm not sure how the online notaries work... using Zoom or such, so they can attempt to match your current face with the mug shot on your DL or Passport?
I know TIAA accepts online notaries and has at least two that they recommended to us last year, but turned out we didn't need that.

RM
RM --
WF rejected the first copy that I scanned and e-mailed to my son. The pens provided by WF when Dad and I signed were blue. Must a std for WF, as that is what the second branch looked for. So I had to mail it.

WF is archaic with their paperwork. No electronic submissions. All real paper. Much needs to be done in their presence. Maybe they have changed over the last year.

Last year I used a traveling notary for my Dad, which his Assisted facility allowed to be done on the patio.
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