When creating a power of attorney, be sure to choose an estate planning attorney who uses the highest quality, most complete documents so your decisions will be protected and things will go as smoothly as possible when the power of attorney is needed.
According to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 11.94.030: if a person has used language in their power of attorney to indicate that their attorney-in-fact has all the powers that they would have if alive and competent, then that language also includes the authority:
(1) to deposit and make payments from any account in a financial institution, in the name of the principal, and
(2) to enter any safe deposit box to which the principal has a right of access.
Consider this story…
Bob is married to wife, Evelyn, who has been diagnosed with advanced dementia to the point where she does not have the legal capacity to sign a power of attorney. Bob found a durable power of attorney that he and his wife had signed in 1988 when she did have capacity. Bob took the power of attorney to his local bank to access a brokerage account in his wife’s name to obtain funds to help pay for her long term care needs. However, the bank would not accept the power of attorney because it did not state that Bob had authority to buy, sell, trade, or exercise in stocks, bonds or any other security. Apparently this bank has decided that such language is required for an attorney in fact to access the account.
In this situation, had the power of attorney been originally drafted to include an authority for Bob to access Evelyn’s accounts, he would have been easily able to withdraw money to provide for her care. Now, because his power of attorney was not properly and completely drafted, Bob is forced to hire an attorney in order to compel the bank to honor it, further prolonging the time that he is unable to access the account or pay for care.
If you don’t have a financial power of attorney or a complete financial power of attorney, you may call our office or do it yourself with our online service below for a very minimal fee.
Darol Tuttle’s focus is on three highly specialized areas of the law: Elder Law, Estate Planning and Veterans Benefits Planning. Darol Tuttle's law offices are located in Washington State: Tacoma, Washington and Kirkland, Washington. These locations are conveniently located for residents of Seattle, Edmonds, Kent, Gig Harbor, Federal Way, Bellevue, and Olympia.