Follow
Share

I Have been told a general Power of Attorney is not always enough.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing
Many commentors seem to be unaware that a General POA is not valid when the person granting it is not capable of making rational decisions, e.g., having dementia. That's precisely why a Durable POA is needed for this kind of situation. Fortunately, in the early stages of dementia, the patient will often have periods that they retain their normal level of mental capabilities. Those periods of normal mental alertness are allowable for important legal papers (including a Durable POA, will, etc.) to be signed if they were not previously done. Talk to a good attorney to advise you what papers are needed in your state, and be ready to act quickly when the time is right, including having witnesses with no financial interests in the person and a notary present. Previous writers have noted that some brokerage institutions want to use their own Durable POA forms, and you should take these to your own attorney to review before signing, as many brokers (and their house attorneys) often get things confused as to what is really needed or desired for your family situation.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Hi, KathyO!

I totally agree -- I absolutely do want the system to be very careful and emphasize the security of everyone's financial info. :-) But eeks, dealing with the government is always so painful ... sigh.

My feeling about the SSA situation is that while I have a specific need right now (i.e., relating to needing to get a Benefits Verification letter to submit to my Dad's HRA), I can imagine a number of possible situations where I might need to deal with the SSA on my Dad's behalf in the future ... for example, if something dropped through a crack in the system and they stopped auto-depositing his SS checks to his bank account ... or if they miscalculated what he owed at the beginning of a year for that next year's Medicare Part B and D premiums, and I needed to try to get the mistake corrected ... etc. Hopefully, none of these things (or any of the ones I can't even imagine! :-) ) WILL happen ... but if they do, I figure it'll be good to have gotten the "representative of record" red tape already behind me.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Wow did I learn alot from all of you people good advise. Im 65 and my husband is 63 and the only thing we have done is when he had a stroke and my daughter was home made her in charge if im not around of the medical part. We really don't have alot of assests per say but we do own our car and paying on our house. We were told that we could write out a will ourselves and sign it as we don't have alot in savings but do have railroad SSS and State retirement. What all do you suggest that I start with. So confusing.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

My social security payments that are automatically deposited into my checking account, on my death, must SSA be notified by my family or does the funeral director immediately notify SSA.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

PaulaK, I feel your pain. Ugh!!! I can appreciate all the rules and regulations for keeping someone's financial life safe and intact - I would want the system to watch out for my finances too. However, I hope there comes a time when a caregiver's life is made a little easier in this regard.
Regarding becoming "representative of record" with the Social Security Administration, is this something every caregiver should think about? If so, can anyone think of situations why we'd need it? (Besides PaulaK's of course.)
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

As you can see from the other posters' experience, the answer is "it depends." My state does not have registration of the document; some states do. Many firms accept a faxed copy or a photocopy, others want to see the original, still others have their own forms they want filled out. Most firms keep it on file once they accept it; for one I had to fax it every time I dealt with them over the phone -- they could never find the copy.

It would be really good if there were uniform practices regarding this very important document. As it is, I think lindahernerOT's advice to have at least two originals signed and notarized makes sense. Be aware that you may also have to jump through additional hoops with some firms.

Good luck!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

as you can see - various answers and different requirements to that one question.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

My experience was the same as KathyO's. I, too, had thought that a POA would be the magic document that opened all doors ... but it seemed that there were some doors that stayed stubbornly impervious even to this skeleton key.

I seem to remember that both Fidelity and Schwab had their "own" POAs that had to be processed, and I, too, was grateful that my Dad was still capable of signing these, as I'd (optimistically!) assumed that having a general durable POA would be sufficient to deal with these organizations.

I am now attempting to become my Dad's "representative of record" with the Social Security Administration, so that they will deal with me directly in matters relating to SSA. For now, I need this because I need to submit a claim to my Dad's health reimbursement account for the money he spent last year on Medicare Part B premiums, and the HRA people will only accept a letter from Medicare or a statement from SSA that spells out what he spent on this during the year. I tried Medicare first, but they insisted they don't write such letters, and directed me to the SSA. When I called the SSA to explain what I needed, they said they couldn't talk to me because I wasn't my Dad. I told them I had a durable POA, and they said I would need to take it and my ID into my local SSA office, show both of these to an SSA official, and I would be made Dad's "representative of record."

This, of course, has not turned out to be so easy. If you have not yet had the pleasure of visiting SSA yourself, it makes an afternoon at the DMV feel like a day at the spa. Parking at my local SSA was practically nonexistent, and when I did eventually get a space, I found room packed with people waiting for their turn at the window. I had checked the branch's website before I came, to see if I could make an appointment in advance (like at the DMV), but had seen nothing to indicate this was possible. When I arrived, I had to "check in" at a giant computer screen and take a ticket number. The computer screen asked, among other things, if I had an appointment (?!?!?).

I then waited (no exaggeration) an hour and 10 minutes before I was called to a window. There, I produced my ID and my POA and explained what I needed ... namely, to become my Dad's representative of record, and then to request a Benefits Verification letter for him. The SSA clerk explained to me that this was not something he'd be able to do for me that day, because it was more complicated than something the window clerks could deal with, but he would make an appointment for me to come back (two weeks later) to deal with someone in the back office. Also, he said, it was good that I had a POA, but this would be insufficient for the SSA to make me Dad's RoR. I would also need to give the SSA contact info for the doctor who best knew his condition, and they would have to fax a form to this doctor to fill out and return. I'll find out in two weeks if there are yet MORE hoops to jump through ...

The IRS also has specific forms that must be filled out to make you a person they can deal with on behalf of another taxpayer, and state departments of revenue, as well. I think we also had to fill out an additional special form so that the IRS would copy me on all mailings to my Dad.

My point is ... a general POA IS very important; I believe this utterly, and I asked my Dad to sign one when I first started to think everything wasn't quite right with him. He was not receptive to the idea at the time. Two years later, he agreed without hesitation, as he was feeling overwhelmed by the tasks and requirements of financial management (e.g., taxes, minimum required distributions from his 401K, and so on). I thought the POA was all I'd need ... but I rapidly discovered that some institutions had these additional requirements.

Even if your parent isn't willing to sign a POA yet, it is a good idea to get as complete an idea of their financial situation as you can ... for example, who supplies their home or car insurance? Do they have a pension, and if so, what company administers it? Do they get some kind of SS benefit? Do they have stocks, retirement accounts, bank accounts, annuities, etc.? Make a list of all the companies or government organizations you would have to deal with if you took over your parent's financial life TODAY ... then contact those organizations (best of all is if you can find contact numbers for them on the monthly statements or paperwork that your parent receives) and ask what they would require in order to deal with you on your parent's behalf -- that is, would a durable POA be sufficient, or do they have their own form that must be signed or notarized? For those that have their own forms, ask to have a copy sent to you, or ask to be directed to the specific Web address where you can download the forms. To the best of your ability, prepare a "complete" packet of material that your parent would have to sign (and that would likely have to be notarized) in order for you to be able to get information/make decisions on your parent's behalf.

Then sit down and talk to your parent. I was lucky when it came time to do this; Dad was feeling overwhelmed by tasks relating to manage his finances, and just as happy for me to take it over. I realize not everyone will be in this position. But it's better to start asking early; to explain why it's important to your parent's financial well-being that someone he knows and trusts is in a position to take over this responsibility; to make the case for why it should be you; but also to ask who he would like it to be if not you.

Most important advice is don't wait or bury your head in the sand ... make an effort NOW to fill in the blanks for yourself about this other person's life. Gather account numbers and contact numbers for all companies that send a bill to your parent, even if that bill is currently being paid through automatic bank account deduction. Assume that the day WILL come when you will need to handle communication with that company or entity on behalf of your parent. In some cases, you will be able to set up an online account for your parent and just handle payments or account cancellations through that. In other cases, you will have to deal with company or entity representatives on the phone. Do it now ... your "future" self will be grateful. I've spent this week trying to get my Dad switched to a new Medicare (and part D) plan during the "annual open enrollment" period. That's been a struggle in and of itself ... I'm so grateful that his former employer's "benefits partner" organization that is managing the process already had my POA on file. That took me months (and several copies of the POA) to make happen last year ... but I'm glad we got it done when there was no time pressure, so that it was in place when I needed it.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

I have had quite the opposite experience with my dad's DPOA. The bank accepted it no problem, but his individual stocks all had different requirements. VanGuard and Fidelity were the worst. They wouldn't accept it, and had us fill out their own POA forms and have them notarized. Had to do it twice with vanguard due to one being a stock and the other being an annuity. Thank goodness my dad could still sign them. I don't know what I would have done if he was comatose or had dementia. 3M accepted it. GE will accept it, but only if it has yet another seal from a bank (medalion seal I think its called. It's like a notary's seal, but from a financial institution). I think in retrospect its good to get all the paperwork requirements in place *before* something happens where he can't sign it. Oh, BTW, I'm working with a VA certified attorney to get him VA Pension and Aid & Attendance - and she says that the VA won't accept a DPOA either! Huh?
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

You only need a POA for the individual person. All institutions will accept this document. Note: HAVE IT RECORDED at your county clerk. Some institutions will require this. I used copies of the recorded document at many institutions and was accepted. ALSO, if you are doing a real estate transaction, you will need a certified copy from the clerk's office, this has a seal and is noted by the clerk's office. I have several copies on hand that are also certified. Otherwise, a recorded copy of the POA is acceptable.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I know that laws vary from state to state, but here in NC, a durable power of attorney must be registered with the county register of deeds. After that, it is available on the county web site and in most cases I have just had to give the web address to the various financial institutions.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

We live in MI and have found that to cover all the bases we need the following: General Will/Living Will/General Financial P.O.A. and a Medical P.O.A.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

You will need to keep the original (best to have two signed originals notarized - one to carry, one for safe place). Any bank or other business you deal with might ask to see the original, and they will fax a copy to their corporate attorneys then hand it back to you. Large banks are used to this, and have you wait about 15 minutes while their atty looks it over ans sends back an approval. That approval stays on file unless they get a Revocation or new POA (dated more recently) from someone else. Most companies you deal with on the phone (utilities, etc) will have you fax them or mail a copy of original. In my experience, very few places will take your word for it, and you will have to have it handy to show (more often than you think).
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Does each financial institution need a copy to keep on hand?
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

No.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

In our case, which included multiple banks, insurance companies and Schwab, no. We did have two, durable & medical.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.