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Using POA for Parent
Old 04-10-2018, 10:00 PM   #1
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Using POA for Parent

I would like some feedback on the nuts and bolts of using a power of attorney for a parent. I understand the legal part of it (I'm an attorney) but haven't had personal experience using one in this situation.

My mother is 94 and in poor health. She has been living on her own and managing things on her own. She is forgetful but has been competent to do that. I've had her durable power of attorney (and her health care POA) for many years but I've never had occasion to use them.

About a month ago she was hospitalized for heart failure and spent a few weeks in the hospital/rehab. She went home and a couple of days later fell (due to low blood sugar) and is not back in rehab (after being in the hospital a few days).

She wants me to handle all of her bill paying and money for her. Until now I've lived a few hours away from her. But we recently moved near to where she is (we are living in a short term apartment until we find a house).

So far she can still sign checks but I think she would prefer I just do everything. So questions on how using a POA actually goes:

1. She has a contract with Terminix that I can't get a clear answer on what it is. I don't mind paying it off (well, having her pay it off) but I don't want to renew it. I need to call Terminix and talk to them. For those using a POA for a parent, in those kinds of situation will they typically talk to me on the phone or make me send in a copy of the POA first?

2. She has her money at Chase Bank (which is also where I bank). She said that she talked to them years ago and they said there would be no problem honoring the POA but she didn't give them a copy. I know some banks want the person to sign their form. She is mentally competent to do that, but right now is not mobile enough to do it (that is, she could not go into the bank). I am not sure if she will ever be able to go into the bank. Of course, the bank should honor her Durable POA but I know sometimes they don't. Obviously the thing I most need to be able to do is write check as Attorney in Fact for her. (No, I don't want to simply be joint on her accounts. I think it is cleaner to not do that). Any experiences with Chase or other bank?

3. There are a few things where I would like to get forms from her IRA (small value annuity) or from a couple of small pensions she gets (she gets a monthly check and I would rather it was direct deposited).

Any other words of wisdom on how to get people to honor the POA? Or other advice?

At this point, my mom's doctor does not think she will rebound back to where she was a few month's ago. She feels my mom is in gradual decline. My sense is that she doesn't expect her to live more than 6 months to a year and things could easily go south at any minute. My mom is definitely getting weaker and just doesn't want to deal with any of this at all.
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Old 04-10-2018, 11:19 PM   #2
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It is good to have a POA, but not required in many instances...

An example is Chase... my mom put me as a signatory on her account... I write her checks and also do bill pay online for her... just take her to a branch and they will do what is necessary... this mean you are also an owner on the account... and will be able to see it when you log into yours.. I still log in on hers to do bill pay.... not sure if I can do it with her account when I log in on mine...

I have a number of her accounts with me as a person who can talk to them about her account... Comcast, her condo, health insurance etc..... almost all of them she just gave them her info over the phone and said that I (her son with same last name) could talk for her... no POA needed...

We have recently had her in a hospital, skilled nursing and now memory care.... the first time anybody got a copy of the POA was the SN and then memory care.... I also gave them her advanced directive and medical POA.... now when I deal with anybody that has contact with the home they just know I have the ability to make the decisions... some do require me to sign as guarantor, but not all...


I have not done this yet, but I am thinking about getting rid of her small accounts.... we are also starting to go through her stuff in her condo and getting rid of junk and starting to do some sorting.... total of 6 kids, so I am getting some help from the ones that live close....
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Old 04-10-2018, 11:39 PM   #3
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I used a POA at a bank, showed it to them, they made a copy, then let me withdraw some money from the account.

I've also simply phoned the agency/bank/etc from the relative's room, told them who I was, and that X was here and I was helping solve this issue. They always ask to speak to X , ask some simple questions to establish identity, and then X says just talk to Y and hands me the phone and I try to solve the issue. No POA used or discussed.
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Old 04-11-2018, 05:37 AM   #4
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Interesting topic since many of us will need to give out POA to others in the coming decades. If I have POA over another person's finances (or vice versus) is it then legal for me to use their usernames and passwords to effect financial transactions online? Or does that muddy the waters legally as to whether the real person or the agent processed the transaction? Seems like using a credit card with the owners approval. I understand that to be permissible.
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Old 04-11-2018, 06:00 AM   #5
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I have been using a POA for DMs financial affairs for a decade. Her banks asked for a copy of the POA, as did her retirement plan (a state) and once received, followed all my instructions,with no issues. Weve had no problems with any business. I manage all her accounts online, also with no issues.

Social Security does not recognize the POA and refuses to deal with anyone but her. Weve needed to contact them multiple times to change addresses and accounts, and she needs to get on the phone each time to authorize the agent to deal with me.

She also has a military pension, and DoD has an enormous and always present warning on its website that it is unlawful for anyone other than the individual to set up and access the online account.
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Old 04-11-2018, 07:45 AM   #6
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I am constantly calling health insurance companies on behalf of my parents. I just enter the member id and birthday, I identify myself as the son, and the customer service rep talks to me. I have also set up an online account for them to track claims. I also call medical providers to dispute all the 'vulture billing' that my mother is getting lately. (vulture billing = bills from providers that my mother does not owe, for example, balance billing, that the vulture hopes my mom will pay for anyway, due to being a nice little old lady. ) The vultures want to have Mom on the phone also. It's a large burden watching out for aging parents but the alternative is worse.
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Old 04-11-2018, 09:19 AM   #7
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My mom had a stroke last May and set me up as her Power of Attorney while she was in Rehab. In the last year I have found the POA doesn't always give me the power to do anything.

The first thing I used the POA for was to gain access to her bank accounts so I could start paying bills. This was actually the easiest to do. I took the POA document to her bank, they made a copy for their records, then added my name to her accounts. I was also able to close her empty safe deposit box and a savings account she no longer needed.

The utilities (phone, cable, garbage) didn't care either way. I phoned them and described the situation, they cancelled the accounts without any documentation. Same with home insurance, car insurance, property taxes, etc.

My first hurdle came when I tried to let her railroad retirement know her address had changed. No change to her bank account or where the money got sent, just an address change. The POA meant nothing to them. I had to file paperwork to become a "representative payee". It wasn't an overly difficult process, just stressful and time consuming during an already difficult time.

We are currently in the process of trying to sell her house. I have been able to take care of most things with the POA, but they did require my mom to sign a Lack of Probate document for her husband who died 15 years ago. Also, even though the POA document itself gives me full power to do everything for her, I made the mistake of including the cover letter from the attorney that has one line mentioning "with my consent". The title company latched on to that, so now it's looking like I'm gonna have to drive mom a couple hours to the title company so she can give her consent in person.

Most other situations like her medical insurance, doctor appointments, etc. have been no issue. They just wanted a copy of the POA to have on record, then I can make appointments, ask medical questions, etc.

It has been a rough year, but we've worked through most issues. I set up any new accounts as joint accounts in both our names. And I'm on record now to deal with any medical issues that might arise going forward. If we can just get past this home sale there shouldn't be any more major financial issues to deal with until her personal finances run out.
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Old 04-11-2018, 09:45 AM   #8
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I sent a copy plus other paperwork to be listed on my Dads investments and pension benefits as “agent”.

He had put me and my brother on his checking account years ago so either of us could step in with bill paying. I already did when he moved into assisted living a little over a year ago. I set up everything possible for automatic payments so that Dad didn’t need to deal with the bill paying anymore.
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:04 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by donheff View Post
If I have POA over another person's finances (or vice versus) is it then legal for me to use their usernames and passwords to effect financial transactions online? Or does that muddy the waters legally as to whether the real person or the agent processed the transaction? Seems like using a credit card with the owners approval. I understand that to be permissible.
As my mom's legal guardian, the bank required me to establish and use my own username and password to perform transactions on-line.
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Old 04-11-2018, 01:34 PM   #10
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We had one location tell us the paperwork was "technically" no longer valid because it had the staple removed and was re-stapled. Ironically, that was at the court house where another department had actually done that!

Generally though we had no problems, though some needed to see the original and others take a copy

I would suggest getting your name added to her checking and other relevant accounts if allowed, because we learned with FIL that once death occurs, the account gets locked down very quickly and of course POA is no longer valid.
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Old 04-11-2018, 01:47 PM   #11
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DW was POA for her father for almost a year before he passed. She had very few if any instances of anyone not recognizing the POA. That said, both lived in a small MD town for a long time and DW was well known to everyone at FIL's bank, and the bank president was a guy straight out of "It's a Wonderful LIfe". FIL probably had his accounts there for about 40 years. Staff at the post office knew her, and that she was FIL's daughter, and it being a small town pretty much everyone knew he wasn't doing so well and that she was looking after him, so no friction on the issue of having his mail forwarded to our address after she showed them the POA. Stuff like that really greased the skids on making it as easy as possible for DW to handle his affairs.
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Old 04-11-2018, 03:41 PM   #12
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I have been the POA for my mom for over 10 years till she passed 3 years ago. She had dementia. Didn't have any problems except when I had to use POA to open a joint account for her and my dad. They were separated because of her dementia and her thinking all kind of wild things about my dad.

I opened the joint account with POA's for both of them because they had checks coming in that were made out to both of them. After 4 hours of "discussion" and them sending the POA's off to their attorneys. This was 8 years ago. They finally opened an account. I don't think they would do it again today. Glad I got it done way back when.

Other than the one instance, the POA has worked very well.
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Old 04-11-2018, 04:24 PM   #13
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I would suggest getting your name added to her checking and other relevant accounts if allowed, because we learned with FIL that once death occurs, the account gets locked down very quickly and of course POA is no longer valid.
This is a good point. Legally, the POA becomes invalid when the issuer passes away, so it helps to have a plan in place to access funds that may be needed while the accounts are settled.
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Old 04-11-2018, 04:41 PM   #14
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This is a good point. Legally, the POA becomes invalid when the issuer passes away, so it helps to have a plan in place to access funds that may be needed while the accounts are settled.
I emptied my moms accounts out before I told the bank she had passed. Did it by external bank transfers to an account I set up years before that my sister and I were on.
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Old 04-11-2018, 05:12 PM   #15
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I tried (with my Mom present) to use POA at a Bank of America Branch in CA. They looked at it, and said, "why don't we just add your name to the account?," which they did. While there's some liability associated with having one's name added to another's account, it proved invaluable in the event of her passing. I sent letters to all of her doctors stating I had POA, and some wanted to see a copy; the USPS wanted a copy when I closed her PO box. Most entities, if they are being paid, don't care if you have one or not, they just want to be paid. I ran into trouble with the cable company, trying to close her account, without showing them the POA; when I returned the cable box in person, they did not even ask for it. So, good to have, need infrequently. I kept up auto payments and made Bill Pays in my mom's name.
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Old 04-11-2018, 05:14 PM   #16
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I emptied my moms accounts out before I told the bank she had passed. Did it by external bank transfers to an account I set up years before that my sister and I were on.
Not sure that's legal, unless you were listed on the account as a co-owner.
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Old 04-11-2018, 05:18 PM   #17
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Not sure that's legal, unless you were listed on the account as a co-owner.
I was the executor of the will also. She didn't have enough left to probate. No questions were asked when the account was closed.

PS I did go back and look and I was listed on the account.
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Old 04-11-2018, 06:24 PM   #18
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Some experience with this from DGM, DGA and DM. +1 on getting added to bank accounts... makes things much easier and you can establish and do online access plus you will have access after she passes.

On most account type things sometimes they will talk with me and other times I need to have them conference DM in and she gives the vendor permission to talk to me... where they conference her in she typically stays on the call while I get things sorted but sometimes not.

If you don't mind skirting things a bit you can set up online access as if you were her (you have a POA afterall) and then get forms and do whatever is needed. I always inform DM of what I plan to do and her and my siblings trust me implicitly so it has never been an issue. I guess it helps that they all know that if am FI so I don't need or want her money.

For DGM and DGA, I was eventually their court-appointed custodian. In DGA's case I was liquidating assets in anticipation of a long nursing home stay so most of her assets were in cash in an account I was also on when she died, so we were able to avoid probate.
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:04 PM   #19
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I emptied my moms accounts out before I told the bank she had passed. Did it by external bank transfers to an account I set up years before that my sister and I were on.
If you were on the account, then it would not have been shut down if you had rights of survivorship.
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Old 04-13-2018, 01:51 AM   #20
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Thanks for all the feedback. It is helpful. A few things:

1. On the idea of my mom going with me to the bank -- right now that is impossible. She can't walk across a room let alone go to the bank. That may change with rehab but I am thinking about worst case scenarios where she just isn't capable of going to the bank (or wherever).

2. Several years ago (with my mom's permission) I was going to set up online access for her for the bank. She doesn't use computers but was OK with me doing it as POA. Well, the bank to set up the online account wanted to text a code to her phone (she only has a dumb phone but I think it gets texts although she has never texted). But, since she hadn't gone into the bank to add the cell phone to her account records the bank wouldn't let the code be sent to the phone. Without the code she couldn't set up online access so she couldn't add the cell phone online. I finally just gave up.

3. I am very reluctant to add myself to her bank account for two reasons. One - I worry that would create some risk for her. That is, what if I was sued or had some liability and someone tried to collect the money from that account because my name was on it? I have no debts and pay my bills but someone could wrongfully try to collect something. Second - If my mother were to need nursing home care and lived long enough she could exceed her assets and need Medicaid. Would it muddy the waters in her qualifying if I was on the account and writing checks (even if all of them were for her benefit)?

FWIW, I plan to go to be bank probably Monday and talk to them since that is the main one that needs to be done. I will go to the branch that she has banked at for over 50 years since I want to check the safety deposit box (I am on her box and have been for over 40 years).

I need to talk to the people who her Terminix contract or contracts are financed with (I think). She doesn't know if she can cancel them early or how to prevent them automatically renewing. These are the main non-bank/financial people that I want to talk to me.
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