How powerful is my DPOA?

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I have DPOA for my mother. Can I put myself on her bank account? Her dementia makes her believe if she adds me that I'm going to clean out her account. Of course, with DPOA I could already do that, but that's not going to happen. I'm more worried about getting to her money to bury her and pay off her final bills once she passes. What happens to the money in her bank account if I can't get added?

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I didn't know the difference between the POA and DPOA! Thanks everyone for explaining it.
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POA and DPOA both end at the patient's death.
The Executor takes over from that moment on. Even the funeral.
The POA can not, by law, benefit from their authority, including writing checks to themselves, and especially must not move accounts, cars, houses or anything else into their name. Check your state's probate laws.
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A POA is an essential document. However, mom's accounts should have beneficiaries listed on them so that when she passes away, those listed as beneficiaries - and you should be one too- will get the money accordingly. Beneficiaries are done at the bank level, A will or trust, etc details the breakdown of the money that each beneficiary is entitled too. Make sure her will and/or trust specifies this.
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There is another alternative. Bank accounts and investment accounts usually can be modified to TOD (Transferable on Death) or POD (Payable on Death) accounts. In such accounts, the beneficiaries are specified in advance and the money is transferred to beneficiaries upon the death of the account holder. These monies do not have to be probated and the terms of any will have no effect on the transfer. Before the death of the account holder, the DPOA and the account holder have free shared access to the accounts. The account holder must sign the application for TOD or POD and select the beneficiaries and the distribution percentages. Unlike joint accounts, this gives the account holder full control of the final distribution. Laws and practices may vary from state to state, and from one bank or investment broker to another.
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If you have a durable power of attorney in most states you can pay her bills and enter into contracts if needed. However, if challenged in court you need to show your actions were for the benefit of your mother and not yourself. If you think you will need to place your mother in a NH then you need to contact a good elder law attorney to learn the ins and outs of spending down her funds before she enters the NH. Generally they advise you to provide for her funeral costs in a prefunded arrangement etc.

If you are not her sole heir, you need to care for her but not do anything the other heirs (who may not do a thing for your mother) could object to and tie up in the court system for yrs. If you are the sole heir your focus can remain solely on the parent's needs--where they should be anyway. Being the only child and sole heir , I didn't have to contend with a "peanut gallery" of relatives "advising" me --just kept the parent informed of what we were doing and why and got his consent in addition to the DPOA. If he objected to anything, I did what he wanted because it was his estate.

Good luck, try to stay focused on what is best for the elder? What would I want if I was in his/her position and I don't think you will go too far wrong.
It is a big responsibility.
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Kashi60 - the reason the bank asked for a doctors letter is that a DPOA - Durable power of attorney takes effect when the person becomes incompetent - so the bank needed to know that in order for the DPOA to be effective she had to be declared "incompetent" by a dr. The DPOA however, must be signed by the person when they are still competent; the attorney and/or notary will ask the person questions to make sure they are in fact competent. A POA or Power of Attorney is used while the person is competent. If you would have presented the bank with a POA instead of a DPOA they would NOT have needed a doctor's note. Both the POA and DPOA end as soon as the person dies. I had both for my mom and needed to use them both. Also a POA does not have to be for an elder, it can be used on a temp basis for designating someone to sell your home in another state, or to do a business transaction in your behalf when you can't be there, etc.. It would state that it was only for that particular transaction and have an ending date. I would suggest everyone have a POA & DPOA along with a health care surrogate form, DNR (if the person wishes that) and a living will. Makes things a whole lot easier.
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Graciesgirl, the whole thing, regardless of state of residency, is just a CF and between the attorney(s) and governmental entities it's a SNAFU which is after FUBAR and TARFU. It's BOHICA because they all want what is not theirs. The person(s) that busted hump for a lifetime in hopes of leaving something for the family at their demise is for not.

Remember what they say......'We're here to help. We're from the government.'

It's made that way so the average little guy (and gals) don't stand a pipe-fitters chance in h3ll w/o legal assistance (sharks) and deep pockets. There are surely those 'rare' exceptions....... God Bless those that are left after we have departed.
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In the state of New Mexico I had to go to the bank with my mother and have myself added to her checking account. We were having theft issues concerning a niece and the bank manager was very helpful with this. My mother was required to be there. We eventually closed that one and opened another at my bank, a joint account.
I did the same thing with my father's account.
When your mother passes away so does the DPOA.

You need to see an elder law attorney. Some will usually offer a 30 minute consultation free of charge to see if they can help you. If they can, then retain one.
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In California, a conservator can revoke a DPOA. Therefore, if your mother is conserved by a professional fiduciary or family member, your DPOA may be rendered useless. If you are concerned about the vulnerability of your mom, perhaps you should check into conservatorship and becoming mom's conservator of the person and estate but be careful, one unintentional wrong move on your part and the courts will replace you with a professional fiduciary and then the problems will really begin. Also, some banks will either not accept DPOA's or make it very difficult for you to use one so check with the bank about their policies. Money left in bank accounts will be probated. After the long process of probate, any money left will be distributed by an administrator or the executor named in the will to the heirs named in the will. If there is no will, any leftover money will go to the heirs.
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The best advice that anyone could offer is that you talk with an elder law or estate planning attorney in your state. The laws governing Durable Power of Attorney vary in each state, and you and your mother will benefit from knowing the rules that apply where you live.

You mentioned your concern about having access to your mother’s funds when she passes. That is an important concern, because the power in a Power of Attorney ends when the person dies.

In my home state, Massachusetts, there are laws allowing jointly owned bank accounts to be distributed to the other joint owner(s) upon death. Other Massachusetts laws allow you to designate beneficiaries on retirement accounts, stock brokerage accounts, insurance policies, or accounts with financial institutions. The beneficiaries listed on the records kept by the insurance company or financial institution determine who gets those assets upon your death.

People in Massachusetts can avoid probate of assets by using bank forms to designate an account ITF (In Trust for), TOD (Transfer on Death) or POD (Payable on Death). Massachusetts even has a law that allows survivors to have access to small bank accounts without probate.

Your mother’s concern about losing control of her funds is legitimate. If a person becomes joint owner, the funds become exposed to any of their financial problems. And another caregiver here posted about the complications with Medicaid eligibility caused by changing account ownership, and that’s another reason to consult an elder law attorney. If you call on an elder law attorney near you, you may also learn about home care assistance programs that can help your mother, and you as a caregiver.
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