If you’re reading this, it’s probably because someone you know and trust has named you as their “Durable Power of Attorney” (DPoA), which simply means you can act as their agent in financial matters while they also maintain access to their financial accounts.
But, having a notarized document stating you have this power is really only the beginning. What good is a legal document if the principal’s (the person who named you as their power of attorney) financial institutions don’t know you have this power?
According to the Texas State Law Library (Texas.gov), “A durable power of attorney is generally used to make plans for the care of your finances, property, and investments in the event that you can no longer handle your financial affairs yourself.” This document does not remove you from accessing your assets, but simply allows someone that you know and trust to make transfers, create and fund trusts, sign checks, and other financial tasks that can be helpful to ensuring everything is in order for your estate plan.
As of the time this article was written, Ard Law Firm, PLLC, has found these documents to be quite helpful to our clients, especially in the Medicaid application process. In order to get you qualified and help you pay for a nursing home, we must submit financial documents that can be easier to obtain with the help of your Durable Power of Attorney.
You have a Durable Power of Attorney–now what? (process)
Each bank and financial institution has their own process in accepting Durable Power of Attorney documents. And beware–they often try to get you to sign their own Power of Attorney forms which typically negate any prior documentation and might be only valid for that specific bank. While the bank’s form might get you access to the one account you need at that precise moment in time, it unravels everything else in personally crafted DPoA documents that our Firm might provide to you, meaning you won’t be able to access any of the principal’s other accounts.
One reason financial institutions do this is because they don’t want to be held liable in the event that the DPoA document they receive is fake. Their caution is understandable, but we just want to prepare you for what the process might look like when enacting your Durable Power of Attorney:
Recently, one of our team members went through the process of filing a DPoA with their father’s bank as their father’s agent. The steps they went through at their local bank are listed below:
- Drop off DPoA document for the bank's legal department to review.
- Wait 7-10 business days for the legal department to approve the DPoA document.
- Schedule an appointment at the bank to get onto his father’s accounts as DPoA.
- Bring 2 forms of ID for the agent (DPoA) and the principal (person granting this power) to the appointment.
- Fill out a separate, additional affidavit of Power of Attorney at the bank.
- Sign a new signature card as both the agent and the agent of the principal.
Our team member said the bank required all of this to be done with a banker not at the window and it took a few hours to complete. It may sound like a lot, but the inability to access your loved ones' assets could be far more time consuming than a handful of trips to the bank.