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Adventures at the Bank

PART I - Coordinate Your Power of Attorney

Many clients visit the bank looking to set up something that will allow one of their children to help pay bills or take care of other things at the bank. While that should be very simple, it often veers off course when the bank offers a number of different options. When sorting through these choices many people are either confused or unaware of the decision that they are making.

If you want to name someone to help out with banking and bill paying, a Financial Power of Attorney is the right tool for the job. You may already have a Financial Power of Attorney in your drawer at home because it is part of a complete set of estate planning documents. The trick seems to be getting that Financial Power of Attorney document out of the drawer at home and over to the bank. If you show your existing Financial Power of Attorney to the bank, it will get the ball rolling and allow your trusted family member to help with banking.

If that seems obvious, recognize that it can still become confusing. Most banks do not rely solely upon the Financial Power of Attorney that your attorney sets up for you. The bank will need some additional paperwork. Part of that involves the agent under your Financial Power of Attorney signing a signature card so that the bank can recognize their signature on checks, withdrawal slips or other documents.

The tricky part is that some banks will offer this signature card without seeing your Financial Power of Attorney document or even asking if you have one. The worst-case scenario is that the signature card at the bank will name someone to be the agent at the bank that is different from the agent named on your Financial Power of Attorney document for all other purposes.

The obvious solution is to make sure that the bank knows about the Financial Power of Attorney you set up with your attorney and that the documents at the bank name the same agent.

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