Doing Your Banking With Power of Attorney Documents

Earlier in November, CBC reported on the case of Linda Graham, a 94 year-old housebound senior who was unable to make deposits after a policy change at RBC prevented her daughter from doing her banking on her behalf using power of attorney documents.

The article on Graham’s situation reveals something even more disturbing. 10 percent of respondents to a survey specifically about access to banking records with power of attorney documents have reported refused service at a Canadian bank. So what can you do to make sure your wishes are honoured?

Check With Your Branch
First of all, make sure your regular branch is near your home base. If you’ve moved in your retirement, you may need to make sure that your home branch is switched to the bank closest to you. Make an appointment with your bank to discuss your power of attorney wishes and make sure they are in accordance with current bank policies. Keep the relationship going by depositing your cheques in person as long as you are able to do so, and contact them yearly to make sure their policies haven’t changed. Keep in mind, however, that Graham followed these steps and was still denied access to her account when a new bank manager took over. The trick is to stay current, especially after power of attorney powers have been granted.

Craft Power of Attorney Documents Carefully
When drafting your power of attorney documents with your lawyer, ensure that banking is specifically taken into account. Contact your home branch for advice on the legal wording of the document, and have it changed to meet their policies if you already have drafted your documents. It’s a good idea to revisit power of attorney documents on a regular basis for any concerns to ensure that all your needs are being met, not just your banking.

Switch Financial Institutions
If you’ve done everything you can to try to convince your bank to accept your power of attorney, and they’re still saying no, switch to an institution that will accept your power of attorney documents. Remember, 90% of the survey respondents said that they hadn’t been refused bank service due to their power of attorney documents, and these people have to be banking somewhere.

Consider a Credit Union
Credit unions operate on co-operative principles, meaning that they are very much “customer first” companies. Customers are shareholders of the company, and as such, the credit union is accountable to them rather than the reverse relationship that you’ll see at a bank. Deposits at credit unions are insured and secured with the same legal protections that customers enjoy with a bank, and many credit unions charge only minimal fees to join.

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