Will Wells Fargo Accept Your DPOA?

wellsfargoAs I began to use the Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) several years ago, I found out that many banks don’t like them. They would prefer you use the one they supply that doesn’t give you control over when it goes into effect or a way to dictate specific wishes. If and when you need to use one, you will find that getting them to accept it, can take hours in the bank and then possibly weeks to months to resolve issues.

Last month, I went in to clear up two checking accounts and remove my Dad’s name from the accounts. It took over two hours to have it processed and the two accounts cleaned up. I was already listed on my parents major account, so I think they weren’t so worried about giving my access and POA rights over the second smaller checking account.

However, I have hit a major roadblock on an account that was named to my parent’s trust. The DPOA  specifically names the trust and gives me the rights to access it, but the Wells Fargo legal team said “No, we won’t accept it” stating that the sentence giving me the rights doesn’t specifically begin with my mom’s name. The sentence giving me access to her checking account is written exactly the same way. Inconsistent, inconvenient and ridiculous.

If you have done estate planning or are considering it, and your estate lawyer tells you that this won’t happen to you. Please find another estate lawyer. This happens to even the best estate lawyers, most up-to-date DPOA documents, and well-drawn trusts. I live in a state with a statute that was written to ensure financial institutions accepted DPOAs and comes with financial penalties for refusing it. However, doing that is a lengthly law suit and another time vampire I’m not interested in pursuing. Please just accept the papers my parents drew up so that I could use their accounts to help pay for their health and welfare, OK?

When a bank says “no” you need to be able to return to your estate lawyer and they can write a letter to try and clear up the issue. I’m not sure if that will resolve this issue or if I will have to wait until my mom passes away to get access to her account.

The best end-around is to go online. The first time I got a “no” my dad was alive and we went online and created online access to those accounts that were problematic so I could more easily act on my parent’s behalf. That was what they intended. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn about this account until a few months ago when a tax paper got forwarded to me from an old address.

Because of all the places I have found problems, I recommend you get a copy of MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Life. This isn’t just an issue for adult children caring for parents, but for every couple that divides and conquers and every individual that wants to make sure a loved one can help you, should you ever need it. Advised.

To find out what happens to the money that is lost in the shuffle of a move, crisis, or death you can read about the $58 billion sitting with state and federal treasurers. This includes tips on how to learn if you might be entitled to some of it.

11 thoughts on “Will Wells Fargo Accept Your DPOA?

  1. Good information, thanks for sharing. It took almost a year to get access to my dad’s accounts after he died, I recommend everyone plan ahead and make sure they have the information necessary to move forward with financial matters after a loved one’s death.

  2. I suggest having a revocable trust established by loved ones that includes us as primary caregivers (and POAs for medical and financial) in addition to a durable power of attorney. An attorney will draw up the document and it will have a clause that says the primary trustee(s) (our loved ones) control the trust until or if they are incapacitated or they die, then the trust reverts to us.

    The trust covers everything, including financial, and it is in place of a will (this also eliminates contesting wills at the end of life). This gives our loved ones complete control over who they want to stand in for them if it becomes necessary.

    You’ll need to have a declaration of incapacity (for dementias and AD, this is from a psychiatrist usually) for the trust to revert so that you can manage finances for your loved ones (the POA for medical kicks in before this usually).

    The cost is not exorbitant and the trust can be established with any asset (cash or land are most often used – doesn’t have to be a lot, but something tangible must be used to establish it).

    1. My parents did a revocable trust and my husband both have trusts for this reason. My parents trust made handling their property so much easier when we needed to sell it. The basic issue that banks can say no to a POA as well as push back on other legal docs, including the trust, is frustrating and unfair to many families who think having all this done has you covered. None of the current tools would cover online assets or accounts. Then there are those families with a trust, but things weren’t named to it. It’s complicated!

    1. Good Question … it took months to finally resolve. First, I asked the lawyer to write a letter to the legal team. We have a resolution in Virginia that releases a bank of liabilities if they accept a DPOA which is usually why they say no. We NEVER got a response from Wells Fargo.

      Every time I deposited money, I would go into the bank and ask the bankers if they knew the status. I ended up visiting the bank 8 times over 2 months and got to know the manager/bankers. Ask to elevate the issue to the branch manager. It took time for them to understand the issue. They had the documents. Turns out, the biggest fear was that I was going to steal the money and my 3 siblings would sue Wells Fargo. Once they knew all 3 siblings knew and were OK with the release, the money was moved into Mom’s account so I could use it to help cover her expenses.

      Are you having a similar issue? Please let me know if you are able to resolve the issue and what worked for you!

  3. Dealing with this now, my mothers POA has been refused by Wells Fargo because it does not list her account numbers. I am an only child and on one of her accounts, have POA and medical letters stating she can’t nanage her affairs.. It is a catch 22 because how does she prepare new documents at this stage of her Alzheimer’s? The people I am dealing with at her branch are smug on the phone and the manager kept saying to remember to add commas between the accounts in a new document or it would be “tossed back”. I am struggling with what to do about her caregiver bills and in Jan., her quarterly taxes coming up.
    They really don’t give a damn at Wells Fargo.

    1. Hey – I’m so sorry. Unfortunately, I feel like it’s standard training at the “big banks.” A few suggestions:
      – Set up online access with your mom.
      – Go back to her lawyer to see if he can help get the document he/she created. Every state has different laws so I would ask what they can do to help with the document they created is being rejected.
      – There is also the issue of “Decisional Capacity” — while my dad was at a moderate stage of Alzheimer’s his geriatrician and neurologist confirmed that he understood the rights we was giving to me in an updated Durable Power of Attorney. Pain in the rear, but it allowed us to update the documents since we thought we’d need to have the powers for another decade.

      Maybe one of those options will work for you.

  4. Having the same problem with Wells Fargo. Maybe we just need a little bit of the old Wild West. Ride up on a horse walk in with two guns and demand your relatives money.

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