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Does My Dad Need a Power of Attorney If I Can Pay His Bills With a Joint Bank Account?

  • September 6th, 2017
Q
My dad had a stroke, which has led to aphasia and mild dementia. He can't communicate the right words but he seems to be able to understand, although he forgets things. Before his stroke, he put me on his bank account to manage paying his bills. I am also the beneficiary on his life insurance and annuities. Do I still need to have him sign a power of attorney or something?
A

A durable power of attorney would still make a lot of sense. Having your name on your father’s bank account is great because it permits you to pay his bills. But it doesn’t permit you to sign legal documents on your father’s behalf or to take other financial steps as necessary. For instance, being named as beneficiary on your father’s life insurance and annuities means that you will receive them upon his death, but it doesn’t permit you to alter any investments or to withdraw funds your father may need from the annuities or the cash value of the life insurance policies. A durable power of attorney should permit you to take those steps if necessary. But we also recommend contacting the annuity and life insurance companies to see if the companies have their own power of attorney forms or another method of giving you some control over the accounts. We hear reports of financial institutions refusing to honor durable powers of attorney despite the law.

For more information about powers of attorney, click here.

Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA

William Fralin

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm PC
Bethesda, MD

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Last Modified: 09/06/2017

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