Estate planning is a fundamental aspect of securing your legacy. It ensures the management of your assets according to your wishes. Part of this planning often includes appointing a trusted individual as your agent through a General Durable Power of Attorney (POA). This legal document grants your chosen representative the authority to manage your financial affairs. This includes dealing with banks on your behalf. There may come a time, however when your bank refuses your POA, leaving you and your agent in a difficult situation. Below are some reasons why a bank might refuse a General Durable Power of Attorney and what steps you can take to address this issue.
Understanding the General Durable Power of Attorney
A General Durable Power of Attorney (a.k.a. financial power of attorney) is a legal instrument designating a person, known as the agent or attorney-in-fact, to make financial decisions and manage financial matters on your behalf. It is a powerful tool that can help manage your affairs if you become incapacitated or are otherwise unable to handle them yourself. Your agent’s authority is broad and typically includes managing your bank accounts, real estate transactions, investments, and more.
Why Would a Bank Refuse a General Durable Power of Attorney?
While a General Durable Power of Attorney is a legally binding document; banks may have various reasons for refusing to honor it. Understanding these reasons is essential to address the issue effectively:
- Outdated or Non-compliant Document: Banks are stringent about adhering to state laws regarding POAs. If your document is outdated, incomplete, or doesn’t comply with Colorado’s legal requirements, the bank may refuse it. I recommend re-doing your POA every 5-7 years.
- Lack of Clarity: The language used in your POA should be clear and specific. Vague or ambiguous terms may cause confusion and lead to a bank’s refusal.
- Suspicion of Fraud: Banks have a responsibility to protect their customers from financial exploitation and fraud. If they suspect any irregularities or fraudulent activity in the POA, they may decline to honor it.
- Agent’s Ineligibility: Sometimes, the person you’ve designated as your agent may be ineligible to act on your behalf. This could be due to bankruptcy, legal troubles, or other disqualifying factors.
- Bank’s Policies: Each bank may have its own internal policies and procedures regarding the acceptance of POAs. Some banks may require an additional submission of documentation or specific forms along with the POA.
What to Do if Your Bank Refuses Your POA
- Contact Your Attorney: If your bank refuses your POA, it’s important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. An attorney can review your document and assess what you need to do to comply with local laws.
- Request a Meeting: Reach out to the bank and request a meeting with their legal or compliance department. Explain the situation and provide them with the necessary legal documentation to support the validity of your POA.
- Offer an Affidavit: In some cases, banks may accept a “POA Certification” or an affidavit that confirms the document’s validity and your agent’s authority. Your attorney can help you prepare and submit this affidavit.
- Consider a New POA: If your current POA is consistently met with resistance, it may be worth it to create a new document that explicitly addresses the bank’s concerns. Ensure that it complies with Colorado state laws and regulations.
- Seek Mediation or Legal Action: If all else fails, you can seek mediation or take legal action to enforce your POA. This last resort and should only be pursued with the guidance of an attorney.
A General Durable Power of Attorney is an essential component of your estate planning. It grants a trusted agent the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf. If a bank refuses to honor your POA in Colorado, it’s essential to understand the reasons behind the refusal, and take appropriate steps to address the issue. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is often the best course of action. Doing so ensures your wishes are respected and your financial affairs are managed as intended. Remember that proactive planning and clear documentation are key to avoiding potential complications with your POA in the first place.Follow me on social media: