“User-Friendly” Bank of America Strikes Again

Rules such as Bank of America’s power of attorney policy are increasingly significant as the financial world increases its Web presence…

My clients and I have long known that Bank of America often places bureaucratic rules ahead of their customers' best interest.  Today, I thought it important to expose their latest bit of brilliance as a warning for my readers.  Despite all your best efforts to cover all bases and act responsibly so that your loved ones may act on your behalf in the event of a debilitating illness or incapacity, you may find your plans unraveled thanks to a strict new banking policy recently imposed by Bank of America as they updated their on-line security procedures. Bank of America will  no longer accept a power of attorney for on-line banking. What?

As my colleague,Bernard Krooks, wrote last week in Forbes, this strict policy came to light when Chicago resident, Eva Kripke, was blocked from accessing her husband’s Bank of America account. According to Krooks, Mrs. Kripke had been handling her husband Sidney’s bank accounts as agent under a power of attorney ever since he was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia four years ago. Suddenly, she was denied access under the bank’s updated security procedures.

The bank suggested she to go to her local branch and get a printout of her husband’s account information. Not unsurprisingly, as anyone who has ever cared for an incapacited loved one knows, this is an unacceptable restriction at a time when the caregiver's time is a precious commodity; Bank of America effectively added insult to injury, if you will. Equally unfortunate, Mrs. Kripke's options are limited because her husband’s illness has rendered him incompetent.

Lest you think yourself safe because you are smart enough to bank elsewhere, you need to know that rules such as these are becoming increasingly prevalent in the banking world even as significantly more people are called upon to care for an aging population and their attendant disabilities. Thankfully, there are solutions. An experienced elder law attorney can provide guidance in situations where the use of powers of attorney are limited.

You can learn more about powers of attorney in the  Fundamental Estate Planning Practice Center on our website.

Reference: Forbes – Bernard A. Krooks (July 7, 2011) Power of Attorney Does Not Grant Access to Online Banking, Says Bank of America

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