Part Two:

Is a Notarized Power of Attorney Enough?

*This blog is for informational purposes only and is not to be used as legal advice.*

In our September blog, we wrote about some of the different types of Powers of Attorney and how they are used. We also went over several scenarios in where we were asked to notarize POA’s. This month, we want to explore whether having a power of attorney for a loved one, is enough.  

Over the years, we have heard of various client testimonies, whose POAs were in place, and were still rejected for one reason or another. There are cases in where a power of attorney is not enough, and you have to be aware of when this may apply so that you are not caught off guard when it is too late to do something about it.  

Why would a POA get rejected?

There are several possible reasons for a POA getting rejected. One reason is that an entity such as a banking or financial institution, may have its own power of attorney form in place. Another is that a power of attorney may not be up to date with your state’s current laws. You may have a proper POA, but is that enough? Your loved ones may not even be aware that a POA document even exists.

It is best for anyone wanting to give power of attorney, and the person accepting power of attorney, to first check with their financial organization. Make a checklist of what you need the POA for and be prepared to ask all necessary and related questions. For example, will the institution need the original copy of the POA, or will a photocopy be enough? Another common question is, if in addition to having a power of attorney, will the agent also need to be on the bank account of the individual giving power of attorney?
There was a case BKNYC Mobile Notary had, in where a PDF of a bank’s Power of Attorney was emailed to us. The notary assigned, attended the appointment, verified the identity, and notarized the document. However, the bank rejected the power of attorney because the POA was not the original blank form given to the signer’s spouse/agent. The bank in this case, required that their original document be used. It did not matter that the signatures were in blue ink to show that the document was signed in person. This costed all parties involved, valuable time, money, and frustration. The notary and the signers did eventually re-schedule a new POA signing, but if the signers had been made aware of the bank’s policy, the second signing would not have been necessary.

Even with a proper Power of Attorney in place, there have been agents who could not access their family members’ accounts because their names were not under the account. With some banking entities this can be a requirement. Talk to your loved ones; see if having a joint account or adding your name to an existing account will work for your family. Confirm if your family member has multiple financial institutions? Will consolidating accounts make things easier? Also, consider speaking with a licensed attorney to get your questions answered.

In December 2020, New York State passed a law that updated the state Durable Power of Attorney Short Form. The changes were put into effect in June 2021. This update changed a few things, like the gift rider and the new requirement for adding two witnesses in addition to the notary. Not using the new POA form may result in an institution rejecting the power of attorney. This does not include already drafted documents, only newly drafted ones. It is always important to check your state’s laws or attorney, to know what is acceptable and what is not.

You did your research; you have the correct power of attorney, great! A Power of Attorney is vital to estate planning; but much more is needed to protect your wishes, assets, and family long-term. Our last blog states that a comprehensive estate plan with a trust that fits your needs is the best form of protection. We’ve encountered POAs and wills that have been contested by family members and friends, caretakers being locked out of homes, and other similar scenarios. Creating your estate plan early can help deter elder abuse in the future.

Finally, it is important for loved ones to know that documents such as a Power of Attorney or others, exist. Tell your family members and friends about the documents you’ve put in place and how to access them. There is no need to reject a POA if nobody knows one is in place. Create a plan. Get your family involved. Protect yourself.

If you or a loved one need a power of attorney signed, please Schedule an appointment with BKNYC Mobile Notary today or call us at (917) 792-9339. Our Notary experts are ready and available to help you get these key documents notarized so that you and your family can breathe a sigh of relief if or when the time comes.

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