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Reply with quote  #1 
I was reading all the fine print on my bank's website regarding CDs,
and I came across a paragraph about POA - on *any* type of account
and this is what it said:

Power of Attorney.
We may refuse to honor a power of attorney for any reason. We may require an affidavit from the attorney-in-fact, stating that the document presented is a true copy and that, to the best of his or her knowledge, our Depositor is alive and that his or her powers have not been altered or terminated. We may rely on any power of attorney, which is valid at the time it was created until the Association is given written notice that such power of attorney is revoked. For Florida accounts only, transactions conducted by a power of attorney shall be governed by Florida law regarding powers of attorney including without limitation Florida statute 709.08 as such may be modified from time to time.

and also, saw this blurb about joint accounts -- if you have a joint savings or checking account with a spouse, which I do, see underlined:

Joint with Right of Survivorship Account.
An account with two or more account owners is a joint account with survivorship rights. If you have opened a joint account, you agree that the account will be a joint account payable to any one of the joint owners or to the survivor or survivors of them, so long as each such owner/survivor is authorized to sign upon the account. If the account is joint but only one of the joint owners is authorized to sign upon the account, we may treat it as an individual account. You authorize any joint owner to endorse any item payable to you for deposit to this account or any other transaction with us. We shall incur no liability or loss for transactions completed by any joint owner on your behalf. Even though it is your intent to create a right of co-ownership in a joint account, you understand that we may, upon receipt of notice of the death or incapacity of a joint owner, hold the account until you have satisfied us that all legal documents necessary to make payment have been delivered to us, or we have been ordered by a court to dispose of the account. If any dispute arises between the joint owners, we are authorized to freeze the account until we receive instructions signed by all joint owners or until a court orders us as to the disposition of the account.

It seems to me that the bank can trump/ignore a POA on an account at any time that they wish, for any reason,
if a joint owner on an account, i.e. my husband, dies, they have the right to freeze up that account even though I am joint owner with survivorship, and I am "allowed" to do any withdrawals or deposits, but not if he dies apparently!

I guess this is why my husband's father ran to the bank after his wife died, before her death got announced or printed, and took her name off of all their joint accounts. He was a vice president at a bank.

I am tempted to withdraw part of the joint account funds and put it in an account solely in my name with 'payable on death" to my husband, instead of having the joint ownership. In that case if something happens to husband, I at least have some money to live on and they can't freeze it up!

The bank holds all the cards, don't they ?


Reply with quote  #2 
This is interesting. Thanks for bringing it up, Beth. I know that the banks have taken on some heavy regulatory burdens for accounts due to the Patriot Act. That may be the reason for the language about freezing an account if the primary owner dies.

That said, I think you would be smart to set up accounts that you could access and would not risk being frozen in a worst case scenario. Lots of couples these days have "his, hers, and ours" accounts and just transfer money between them as needed using online banking. The only thing to be aware of if you do that is that if you use a savings account for one of the accounts, not running afoul of Regulation D (limits only 6 outgoing transfers from a savings account per month).

I haven't had to try to use my POA yet, so I generally don't trust it to work. I can understand why a bank might want confirmation that a POA is still valid, since they are revocable, though I'm unsure how you could provide valid proof that it hasn't been superseded. Bankers, while very nice people, have a very low risk tolerance and will err on the side of caution whenever possible, which generally makes them frustrating to deal with!
Reply with quote  #3 
(I should add that although I may use a lot of their big words, I am not a banker. I just work with a lot of ex-bankers. They have slowly scared me silly of parts of the banking industry. I will never let a company set up a direct withdrawal on my checking account after hearing their stories!)
Reply with quote  #4 

I think your bank is a bank I would want to bank with.  They want to make sure POA is not being abused and that is a good thing.  I would suspect they have had instances of people trying to scam with POA and thus all the caveats.  For example someone could present at a bank with a POA after their parent died and try to cash out their accounts.  But POA goes away when a person dies so this would be fraudulent. 


As far as joint accounts, the bank has to make sure the account is not owing money.  For example if your parent dies and you are a joint owner on the account but the account is overdrawn.  The bank wants to make sure they get their money so they would hold the closing of the joint account up until it was paid up even though the survivor had a legal right to close. 

Reply with quote  #5 
beth, I too worked with/for bankers for many years and I would make sure you have an individual account with a reasonable amount of money with which to pay bills, etc., in the event of surviving your husband while your husband's estate is settled. It's a risk having last penny in both names because, yes, banks can freeze funds in certain instances and cause all kinds of problems. Justified and not so justified. And if you can, keep a goodly line of credit available on a major credit card -- a card in your name only. I won't even go into the nightmare of joint accounts and angry divorcing spouses. Yikes.

Mother's banks have been great, but then it's a smaller town and my parents lived and banked there for decades. And the people at the banks know me personally, know where mother lives now, remember that I was there when she put my name on the accounts, etc. If mother and I were just account numbers at a big city bank, whole 'nother story. POA or no POA. Big banks can be exhausting to try and reason with.

Reply with quote  #6 

I very much appreciate this info.  I admit to thinking if we both "own" it or have equal access, that would allow us to carry on.  I share concerns about automatic withdrawal for payments of debts or bills. I can understand that the bank must consider this before releasing funds.. I can also consider that if there are automatic deposits,,those might be subject to being reclaimed if the depositor wasn't immediately notified of death...that includes pensions, SS, VA,,,reverse mortgage...

Fed Up w MIL
Reply with quote  #7 
The reasons mentioned above are valid. But if a bank wants to jerk you around they can. A large bank you've all heard of held about $75,000 from me as POA for my mom. I satsified every requirement but their legal dept had to review. OK fine. But then, the file kept getting transferred to new reviewers--this dragged on for months. I finally got an atty who served them (presenting all the same info they had had for months) and viola- they released the funds.
Reply with quote  #8 
FedUp, I guess your scenario is what would bother me about all this.

I understand banks have to be cautious and they are dealing with a lot of bizarre situations that come up.
It just surprised me they could lock up a joint account that easily. I had no idea.

The POA thing was surprising as well, to me.
After one leaves an attorney's office with one's elderly parent and has the POA all set up (durable), then goes to the bank and signs all THEIR POA documents.. you naively believe that you now have the "power" to do what is needed, in case it is needed, at the time it is needed. 
But the banks have all the legal power on *their* side. Kind of disturbing , to me, in a way. If I assign my husband as POA, I sure don't want him to go thru all kinds of grief and hoops at the bank, but I do understand they have to take a lot into consideration, like marriages dissolving, and POA's getting revoked etc.

Their language, in the fine print, came across as extremely disturbing to me. It is like they can come up with any reason to IGNORE your poa ! and yes then you are forced to hire an attorney. So what good is a POA, really?
 I know some members of this message board had problems with the POA at various banks, and they were legit POA's, and they were just trying to handle their elderly parents financing, not scamming or stealing.

I never encountered a problem with Mom's POA at the bank, but I only needed to use it for a few years, while she was alive, and hers was a small town, they knew me, they knew mom was having health issues, and they could see I was just writing checks for medical bills, to the assisted living, and to maintain her house. I was not withdrawing any strange amounts of cash or anything.

Anyways. This is certainly a heads up for me. Tricky stuff, not black and white, and just because you have POA does not mean it is all going to go smoothly. Despite what the attorney tells you when you are having it done! 

I agree with all the stuff about autopay/direct withdrawal, and online banking. I don't do any of that stuff either. I actually am acquainted with people who hack into accounts and servers for a living, to test the security and the software. You would be amazed at how quickly they can do it. It is just a bolt of lightning waiting to strike you, it would be some Russian dude no doubt, and it happens in a nanosecond. Even if you check your account every single day (who does that I ask you ?!), it doesn't matter, they can do it 3 hours later. So maybe it won't happen to you ever, but why risk it, really? Online banking is a fiasco waiting to happen. Even the Feds are worried and have pointed out that they can't keep up.

oh well! another day, another ray of sunshine.

Reply with quote  #9 
Info on Payable on Death/ Transfer on death for property, automobiles, securities and bank accounts.  You may want to check with someone you trust with your finances, and be sure to check to see if TOD is legal in your state before considering these. These documents can be changed or voided prior to death, and are only valid after the death of the individual. The beneficiary will need identification, and proof of death of the individual to present to the bank.


Payable-on-Death Bank Accounts

Payable-on-death bank accounts offer one of the easiest ways to keep money -- even large sums of it -- out of probate. All you need to do is fill out a simple form, provided by the bank, naming the person you want to inherit the money in the account at your death.

As long as you are alive, the person you named to inherit the money in a payable-on-death (POD) account has no rights to it. You can spend the money, name a different beneficiary, or close the account.

At your death, the beneficiary just goes to the bank, shows proof of the death and of his or her identity, and collects whatever funds are in the account. The probate court is never involved.

If you and your spouse have a joint account, when the first spouse dies, the funds in the account will probably become the property of the survivor, without probate. If you add a POD designation, it will take effect only when the second spouse dies.


Transfer-on-Death Securities Registration

Almost every state has adopted a law (the Uniform Transfer-on-Death Securities Registration Act) that lets you name someone to inherit your stocks, bonds or brokerage accounts without probate. It works very much like a payable-on-death bank account. When you register your ownership, either with the stockbroker or the company itself, you make a request to take ownership in what's called "beneficiary form." When the papers that show your ownership are issued, they will also show the name of your beneficiary.

After you have registered ownership this way, the beneficiary has no rights to the stock as long as you are alive. But after your death, the beneficiary can claim the securities without probate, simply by providing proof of death and some identification to the broker or transfer agent. (A transfer agent is a business that is authorized by a corporation to transfer ownership of its stock from one person to another.)

Transfer-on-Death Registration for Vehicles

Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio and Vermont offer car owners the sensible option of naming a beneficiary, right on their certificate of registration, to inherit a vehicle. If you do this, the beneficiary you name has no rights as long as you are alive. You are free to sell or give away the car, or name someone else as the beneficiary.

To name a transfer-on-death beneficiary, all you do is register the vehicle in "beneficiary form." The new registration certificate will list the name of the beneficiary, who will automatically own the vehicle after your death. You can find more information on your state's motor vehicles department website.

Transfer-on-Death Deeds for Real Estate

In some states, you can prepare a deed now but have it take effect only at your death. These transfer-on-death deeds must be prepared, signed, notarized and recorded (filed in the county land records office) just like a regular deed. But unlike a regular deed, you can revoke a transfer-on-death deed. The deed must expressly state that it does not take effect until death.

States that allow TOD deeds are Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wisconsin.

Further Information

If your state offers transfer-on-death deeds, check out Nolo's state-specific Transfer-on-Death (Beneficiary) Deed eForms.
Pressing On
Reply with quote  #10 

Yes, Pay-on-Death is wonderful if the person is comfortable with that.  I've nearly got Mom's POD accounts liquidated, and it was easy.


The rest.  Sigh.  I'm not the executor, but I seriously doubt that it will get resolved anytime soon unless I decide to get involved with sorting the paperwork.  If the executor lets me of course..

Noreen Calamanco
Reply with quote  #11 
Can a bank let a power of attorney take money out if a joint checking account and cash in cd with a lot
Mike Gamble

Super Moderators
Posts: 53
Reply with quote  #12 
Yes. The person named as the power of attorney has the same rights as the accountholder. However, the power of attorney should be acting in the best interests of the accountholder. If you believe that is not the case, you should contact an attorney who specializes in elder law as quickly as possible. It is surprising how many adult children, while acting as power of attorney, are actually stealing money from their parents.
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