Will the Power of Attorney work when you need it to?

I beat the drum on the issue of a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA). I had one for my parents, but one financial services firm rejected it because it was more than 2 years old, a second who said they won’t accept one more than 5 years old and their insurance firm said they would only accept the version they created. This statement shocks many who believe they are covered.

POAIf you have any concerns about your DPOA, I recommend you speak to a lawyer who is dedicated to the practice of Estate Planning. They should counsel you that there are some instances where you may need them to follow-up to ensure the DPOA is accepted. It’s one of many reasons to not use an online legal service for your estate planning needs.

When you are getting your wills, and power of attorney done, I strongly urge you to find a lawyer who ONLY focuses on Estate Planning. The state and federal laws and rulings are constantly changing and those issues are things the estate lawyer can help you with. We found one to get a DPOA for my parents that would be accepted by their banks and insurance company. If you had a heart condition, you would not go to a general practice doctor, you would see a cardiologist. Look at finding a lawyer who specialized in estate planning when you are updating these documents.

In reality, there is more to organizing your estate than just having the legal papers in place — you need to get it organized and setting up online access is a huge benefit to a loved one if they ever need to step in and assist you.

To learn more about the DPOA issues check out a story in The Wall Street Journal –  Power Grab! Signing Over Power of Attorney to a Loved One Has Never Been Trickier. Here’s What You Need to Know. 

To get your personal, financial, online, medical and household records organized so they are easier for you to access as well as share with or pass onto a loved one, visit www.MemoryBanc.com/Register 


Divide and Conquer and the Modern Family

My husband and I married in our thirties and we have the divide and conquer philosophy on many of the household duties. My friends and colleagues have mentioned divvying up financial and household matters. When Consumer Reports recently cited that only 30% of couples knew the major financial assets and how to access them, I was not surprised.

ModernFamilyWhile I hope we are not as wacky as the family on the TV show Modern Family, to this day, my husband and I still keep our own bank accounts that are jointly titled. We decided to make one the household bill pay account and the other the rainy day savings account.

I am the owner of the bill pay account. When we were first married, I would write checks twice a month. When my career put me on the road, my husband took over the bill-paying duties from “my account.” He immediately set up online bill pay. When my days of travel ended, I took back the bill pay duties. When I first logged in, I didn’t see any of the bill pay accounts. I had wrongly assumed that the bill pay accounts and pending transactions would be available for both online users to our joint checking account. That is not the case; you can only see the bill pay accounts created under your login. I immediately took over my husband’s username and now we both use one login. I’m now on a soapbox recommending this setup to all of my clients.

If either my husband or I were unable to pay the bills, the other could easily step in. Sharing usernames is against both of our banks’ user agreements and if I call for support, they won’t answer my questions because I am not allowed to be in my husband’s account. Silly! I’m not a big rule breaker, but that is one I break all the time.

Now that I am caring for my parents, the online access offered by every company and most state and federal services has been a major time and frustration saver for me. When my parents’ insurance company and the financial institutions that hold several investment accounts refused to accept my durable power of attorney (this is a lot more common than you can imagine and I will cover this next month), my dad worked with me to set up online access so I could act on my parents’ behalf.

Setting up online access to your accounts does not negate the need to have a current will or power of attorney. However, this information will make it infinitely simpler for someone to step in and help if you are unable to manage your accounts, if even only temporarily.

To get your details organized, you can download a free copy of the account and documents checklist, or order the MemoryBanc Register that will prompt you through the process.

I hope you will consider making this change to how you manage your household accounts and bill payments. It’s a kindness your loved ones will appreciate if the information is ever needed.

– Kay
Kay Bransford
Chief Curator and Founder, MemoryBanc