When my parents health started to fail, I was the adult child that was local and stepped up to help. While my parents had planned well, what I needed was information on their accounts, the locations of their personal documents, and access to their online accounts to help reset codes and update account information.
Every adult should have a Durable Power of Attorney. It gives someone the ability to step in for you and pay bills, and manage your financial affairs if you are unable to do this — even temporarily. We did this for my son when he turned 18, and I used it to file his taxes one year when he was traveling.
For those of you caring for someone, you know how important, frustrating, and necessary it is to have this document in place. What many people don’t know is how difficult and time-consuming it can be to have a financial institution recognize the document. Many couples don’t realize until, it is a problem, that being married does not give you instant access to a spouse’s account if you are not named on it.
In hopes of giving you a simple guide to organize this information for yourself, I am releasing this free download.
Feel free to share it with everyone you love. Offered.
While I believe the DPOA is important for any adult over 18 years of age to have in place, there is no one-stop solution. Because most people will need someone to step in and help them during their adult life, if even only for a few weeks, in addition to having the DPOA, they will need to know how to step in and help, and that is why a solution like MemoryBanc is a necessity.
The DPOA was the most important document I held that allowed me to help my parents when their health started to fail. Some institutions readily accepted it when I provided a copy, and I was quickly added to their accounts.
However, in several cases it was very difficult to use. Even though my state (Virginia) has a statute requiring institutions to accept the document. In my case, one financial institution would not accept it because it was more than two years old and a second refused because it was more than five years old. Some institutions took several months and repeated phone calls before I was granted the ability to act on my parent’s behalf.
If you don’t have a durable power of attorney, you can request and complete the “power of attorney” form from the specific financial institution. These forms are designed to allow account holders to define individuals and access rights. You will have to complete one from each institution for access, and these immediately take effect. But if someone is incapacitated, it will be too late to go this route. These documents require a notary to validate identification, and the signer will need to be alert and have decision-making capacity.
An invaluable safeguard is to use a system like MemoryBanc to record the locations of your documents, details on your accounts, and assets. This system provides loved ones with a roadmap to assist you should help ever be needed.