Getting POAs Recognized is No Easy Task: Bank of America

Recently, I have visited several banks to set up banking access using the Durable Power of Attorney (POA) in which I am named. Even when visiting with my clients and doing it together, it is no easy or smooth task. Every bank is different and most of the bankers you sit with don’t know much about POAs. They typically have to follow a “protocol” and I just advise you to be patient and kind … even when you get frustrated and angry at the process. That is really a reminder for me because often I find myself getting aggravated and feisty and ALL the blockades the banks throw up under the guise of protecting their client which is FAIR, but often what they say is just illogical and you will have to repeat yourself over and over as you wind your way through the “escalation” protocols.

Last week I had an appointment with Bank of America. My client had a series of strokes three years ago. He has been living in Assisted Living ever since. My company, MemoryBanc, has been working alongside him and have kept him involved with his finances which is important to him, but something recently has changed in his cognition. He is now constantly calling movers to move him back to his home.

He no longer has another home. When I talk to him about this and explain he would first need to sign a rental agreement and notify the community he leaves with a 30-day notice, he listens. I encourage him to let me cancel the movers and explain that we don’t want to have to pay for both places, so once he lines up his rental agreement, I will help schedule the move. He agrees.

The next day, he hires movers. And again the next day. During the past week, he has also reset his online banking code several times which is a new behavior. We have shared the login for nearly three years and now I can’t get into the banking app to pay his bills without resetting the code again. At this point his community is requiring full-time aides because he is trying to leave by taxi. He has no local family or friends to visit.

I tell him I am going to visit the bank to set up the POA so I can get my own login and help pay the bills without messing up his access. He is AOK with this. So I make an appointment and visit Bank of America.

I provide the POA and my identification. The banker leaves and returns and tells me that the signature on the document doesn’t match his signature on file. I provide them with a “Letter of Incapacity” from his Doctor and explain that he had several strokes. She submits the documents to their “Financial Desk” and says she will call me back in less than an hour.

The next day, she calls and tells me that I must provide the original POA. I explain that I don’t have it. My client was given it but we can’t find it in any of his papers. I got the copy from the Estate Lawyer who drew up the documents. While I am not a lawyer, I do know that there is a statute in Virginia that protects banks from lawsuits for accepting out-of-date or forged Powers of Attorney. I share this information with person who is helping me who is really the wealth advisor and she agrees to submit it and have the Financial Desk contact me to discuss the matter.

I get a call from the bank manager who then says they can’t accept it because the signature doesn’t match and I again explain that my client has several strokes. She tells me I need to submit a copy of his current driver’s license. Luckily, he has a current driver’s license even though he no longer drives and doesn’t have a car.

Then, she says I MUST provide an original copy of the Durable Power of Attorney. I again explain that we have no idea what happened to the original and I say I don’t believe that is actually a requirement in the State of Virginia. She asks me to send in the license and she will submit and recommend they accept the document.

Two days later, I write to ask about the status of my request. I get a note back saying I can come in to get set up as POA.

When I arrive, they don’t have a notary in the bank so I have to take their additional forms to get my access set up across the lobby to the UPS store. I come back and we find there is no option for me to have an online access code.

By this time, the bank manager is helping get me set up and asking why I don’t just take over the individual’s online account. I explain that he loves to look at his bank account on his iPhone. However, he keeps resetting his passcode for some reason now and so I was hoping to not have to interrupt his habits.

As a professional fiduciary, I work to balance financial safety with an individuals habits, goals, and wishes. People make bad decisions with their money all the time. While my client accomplished some increadible feats within procurement for the government his career, he also chose to go through bankrupcy when his wife had cancer. I work to balance that personal will with financial safety. I do this because I saw how much my desire to “take over the checkbook” from my parents threatened their independence.

But, what is safe now? I believe the fact that he is trying to move himself out and unable to explain why is a signal we need to lock down his access. Additionally, a doctor wrote a letter of incapacity saying he was unable to manage his finances, but has been reasoned up until now. What I do know is that he would create a rucus and create huge legal bills to fight the Doctor’s Letter. It is money he doesn’t have.

We had frozen his credit and last month gave him a TrueLink card that replaced his credit card so we can minimize his risk (it’s a self-funded card with $300 and protections around use for taxis, movers).

I know that he has taken pride in managing his finances and know that it gave him purpose and meaning but at this point, I need to push toward preserving his finances to allow to afford the community he has loved for three years. Somber.

I would love to hear from you. How was your experience? How did you solve these with these issues with your loved ones?

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