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The Durable Power of Attorney is an important document to have. However, you and your agent need to be aware of some potential pitfalls with its use.
The essential function of a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is to legally designate a representative to handle your financial affairs, if, for whatever reason, you become incapacitated. Having a DPOA drafted and executed properly, is one of the central documents in estate planning.
However, as reported in The (Wichita Falls TX) Times Record News article, “Tips to make a Durable Power of Attorney work,” sometimes the person to whom you give authority—known as an “agent”—will visit your financial institutions and attempt to get something done on your behalf to no avail. The bank might say “no”, even when they see your perfectly legal DPOA.
Sometimes banks don’t want to recognize a valid POA.
In the eyes of the bank, the DPOA could have been rescinded or even forged. Financial institutions want to do everything they can to protect themselves from lawsuits and damages. Using their own DPOA form is one of those protections. They may want you to use their own forms.
If it is possible, introduce your agent to your local bank or financial institution. This will allow them to meet and get to know each other.
In the event the agent is unable to get the bank’s approval, they should ask why. It may be as simple as changing wording in the document. You can also ask your estate planning lawyer to speak with the bank’s legal department. This may cut through some of the red tape that can be created by front-line staff misinterpreting the bank’s requirements or rationales.
If all else fails, particularly if you’re the agent and the principal isn’t competent, you may need to file a lawsuit to have the DPOA honored. In some rare occasions, a guardianship is requested.
The DPOA is there to protect your interests. We don’t always know in advance when we are going to become incapacitated. Having this in place allows your representative or agent to handle tasks like filing taxes, paying bills and handling the day-to-day financial tasks of life.
An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to help you create a DPOA, along with other necessary documents, so that you and your family are prepared for the unexpected, well in advance.
Reference: The (Wichita Falls TX) Times Record News (March 11, 2017) “Tips to make a Durable Power of Attorney work”