With the Power of Attorney signed and notarized, I thought I was in the clear. Now I would be able to talk to people on my father’s behalf, without getting hung up upon! Well, I was half-right…as it was, I would still run into trouble, especially with the bank.
You see, after we got a handle on our father’s bills, we decided to refinance his mortgage to lower his monthly payments. When the time came to make the first payment, my father was in the hospital. Yet, I wasn’t all that worried because I had the POA and figured that I could just go to the bank and pay it in person.
So, three days before the first payment on the refinance was due, I went down to the bank. I explained to the teller that my father was in the hospital, and I needed them to issue me a bank certified check to pay the mortgage.
Well, she looked at me like I was bonkers and ushered me over to the customer service waiting area. A very nice CSR brought me into her office where I again explained my situation. I also handed her the POA because I wanted her to know I really was legally allowed to make financial decisions for my father.
However, as she explained the bank’s policies and procedures, I realized that I couldn’t have been more incorrect in assuming that a POA gave me God-like powers.
As it turns out, the POA did grant me the power to sign checks, withdraw funds, open accounts, borrow money and remove items from a safe deposit box, but only after you, and the person you’re representing, fill out the bank’s own consent forms.
Once the bank’s consent forms are signed, then they attach the POA to the accounts of the person you’re representing and grant you access to those accounts.
I was quite frantic when I realized that I may have screwed everything up – if I wasn’t able to get a bank certified check issued, I was going to ruin the refinance on my father’s loan. The CSR asked me if I could get my father down to the bank before the mortgage was due – and I reminded her that he was in the hospital with no release date.
So, she advised me to go over to the hospital with the bank’s consent forms, and ask the hospital to send up a notary to witness the signing of the papers. This was a solid plan, so I rushed off to the hospital. But, when I got to the nurses’ station, I was told that the hospital no longer employs notary publics, and I would have to hire a freelance one.
Well, ladedadada, where in the world was I going to find a notary public? Luckily, I remembered that my friend’s firm had notaries in her office, so I begged her to send someone over to the hospital. The forms were signed, and I thanked the notary profusely.
I decided to call the bank before I drove back to the hospital just in case there were any more surprises in store for me. It was a good idea for me to call: I was advised that because it was so near to closing time, the forms wouldn’t be attached to her account until the next business day. This was a huge problem because I had to Fed Ex the payment that day or else it would be null and void.
Sensing that I was close to a breakdown, the CSR told me to go back up to my father’s room and have him issue me a personal check. Then, the bank could turn his personal check to me, into a cashier’s check for the mortgage company.
At the end of the day, I had a cashier’s check in my hands, and even made it to Fed Ex in time. But, my life would have been so much less stressful if I had asked the bank ahead of time what needed to be done so that I could have full access to my father’s bank accounts. Ah, well, I’m learning…
So, my fourth piece of advice is: If you are handling financial matters for your loved one, get down to their bank right away and find out what consent forms they require you both to sign.0