Another article illustrates the problems allegedly faced when a son, David, went to access his father’s IRA accounts to pay for his father’s 24 hour care. According to David, he was required to make nine trips to Bank of America before bank officials allowed David to access his father’s IRA accounts to pay for his care. Some of the delays encountered by David included the bank’s demand to see the original document, the bank refusing to allow David to act alone because he was named as a co-attorney-in-fact, and even a legal interpretation by the bank’s counsel that the power-of-attorney did not cover the IRA accounts.
While these situations are frustrating, it is important to realize that the alternative—not planning—is many more times more frustrating and expensive. Using David’s situation as an example, without a power-of-attorney no bank would allow David to access to his father’s accounts. In California, David would be forced to apply to the court to obtain a conservatorship over his father. The conservatorship process can take weeks and requires that the court appoint counsel for David’s father. Between court costs, attorneys, delays and other problems associated with conservatorships, David would most likely have spent several thousands of dollars simply to obtain access to his father’s money to pay for the care. Such expenses may have made the difference between allowing David’s father to remain in his home or transferring to a facility.
When planning for incapacity, a power-of-attorney is a critical document. As these stories illustrate, however, it is frequently a good idea to check with your financial institutions regarding their policies concerning powers-of-attorney. By insuring that you are in compliance with the institution’s policies before you become incompetent, you may save your loved ones a world of frustration.