17 answers

Durable Power of Attorney Question

Hopefully someone out there has experience with Durable Power of Attorney! My husband has just been forced to put his dad in a nursing home. He is not likely to ever come out. Before he went in he signed over Power of Attorney to my husband. This is the question: can we sign his checks then? The banks won't add him to the accounts even with the proof of POA, so do we pay his bills using his checks by signing them with his name? UGH! Please offer any advice you have on this whole issue! Thanks.

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I am so blessed by the help of the mom's out there who answered my plea! I now have a much more clear understanding of Durable Power of Attorney and what needs to be done for my Father-In-Law. Thank you all!


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Sorry to hear about your situation, I know it is not an easy one. When my father past away a few years ago it was decided that I be put on my mother's banking account. We just went into the bank and took care of the paperwork. You probably are not able to do that. The bank should tell you what has to be done in order for you to be able to be on the account. If they can't give you that information, I would contact the lawyer who helped set up the POA. I would think that should get you somewhere.

Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S.,

It was my mother, not me that went through this. Although I was very close because it was my grandfather and I helped a great deal. Until he died in February of this year, she was able to get added to his bank accounts and take care of everything she needed with the Durable Power of Attorney. NOw some things were a bit different because my grandmother is still alive and some companies wanted her authorization. Which she (grandmother) then authorized my mother to be able to take care of anything that came up.

He was in a nursing home too and never made it out. So sad, yet I sorta felt at peace when the suffering ended.

You should check over you papers or have a laywer that can explain why this may be happening. Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

You mentioned DPOA in your title, but POA in your text. They are different. DPOA is for healthcare decision-making. No, a bank wouldn't honor that. POA is for all other business, and the bank should honor that, unless the language of the POA states specifically what it does and/or does not cover and banking is excluded.(that would be rare). Read the documents, and if you still have questions, michigan.gov, under attorney general, should have information on that tl help you understand. If the documents were drafted by an attorney, they could also answer your questions. I'm sorry to hear about your father-in-law, I wish the best for all of you.

1 mom found this helpful

S. -

I'm sorry to hear of your situation. I went through something similar with my mother a few years back. If you were to speak with an attorny, they would tell your husband to sign the checks with his name and the letters POA or DPOA after it, depending on whether or not it's a durable POA. I don't recall off hand what durable means. There is no need to put your husband on the account unless he truly wants to be. At least that's how it worked with my mother.

I do strongly recommend you speak with an attorney. Does your father-in-law have enough money to pay for the nursing home until he no longer needs it? Does he have a home? It gets complicated from here...and heart breaking.

Feel free to contact me if you would like any more info.

K. T

1 mom found this helpful

I myself had the same situation with my mother . I would highly recomend you set up a trust. In it you can do the same stuff as you do in a POA. My mother had a will and we found out that going through probate is a chore. With a trust you avoid the probate part and everything is so much easyer. As far as the checkng account have your husbands name added to the checking account if possible. you wont need nothing from the courts if he was to pass as your husbands name will already be on it. Get everything you can co-owned with your husband as the survivor. because we didnt we are looking at around $5000 for lawyer and the property another $5000 to get it surveyed to split 4 ways. with a trust all 4 of us could own the property in one chunk.
Just my scoop on it.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, S.

Your husband has the awesome responsibility of handling his dad's affairs. He is liable for any and all decisions he makes on his father's behalf and should speak with an attorney now, not later. Putting his name on the bank account of his father may also mean that he is co-owner of the account, he would have access to that account for anything whatsoever, even if it was not on behalf of his father. If the bank allowed that to happen then they also assume liability.

Before he does anything, he should have an attorney review the Durable Power of Attorney, and advise him on the level of resonsibility he has taken on by acting on his father's behalf, and give advice on what needs to be done. My three questions to you are: (1) Over a year's time, would you agree thta we find ourselves making MAJOR decisions that affect our lives, as well as the lives of our loved ones? (2) Would some of these decisions be made easier with the advice of an attorney?, and (3) If you could call a top-rated attorney during normal business hours and ask them any question, personal, professional or financial, without receiving a bill, would it be beneficial to you and your family?

Friends and family can give you advice on anything, however, will what they avise you to do stand up in a court of law? In most cases, the answer is a resounding "No" because the law is not based on how you felt at the time or your belief; it is based on the legality of the action. Knowing what your options are is tantamount to making necessary decisions.

My job, or my personal mission, is to tell as many people as I can about services that are available to them ... right now. It's their decision whether or not to take advantage of what is available. I feel better, however, knowing that I at least gave them information to make an informed decision.

Feel free to call me. I can be reached at ###-###-####.

1 mom found this helpful

There are multiple types of Durable Power of Attorney: health issues, financial issues, and one more that I am unable to remember (the least needed). We just had first two types done by a lawyer for $400.00. You file them in a safe place. Our lawyer has a copy, but it is for reference only.

1 mom found this helpful

Durable Power of Attorney gives him the right to decide the health issues concerning his father - that's it. In order to get a power of attorney for other things - such as paying bills, or deciding what to do with his property, you would have to consult an elder law attorney, and go to court to get the dad proven unfit, or unable to handle his affairs. It's a hard process - my heart goes out to you.

Hi S., I don't know the answers to your questions, but any lawyers office would probably have booklets regarding POA. Legal secrataties should also be able to give you answers without cost. Have you googled it? Good luck.

As I'm not an attorney, this can not be construed as legal advice, however my opinion would be this: It depends on what type of POA you have---there are many. If it is a POA to act in his stead, then yes you should be able to sign those checks, however be very diligent about record keeping as you may need to prove in probate court later what you have done and why.

My greatest suggestion I can give you is this: Petition for guardianship of your father-in-law. If he is able to consent it will be easier. It is a very very simple procedure - and the court attorney will visit him in the nursing home to ensure that he is aware of everything that is going on. You will open accounts as his guardian and once a year provide accountings to the probate court. This is the absolute BEST way to protect yourself from accusations - legal issues - and other heirs who may think you are up to no good.

I wish you the very best.

Regards, Sandi

Talk to the social worker at the nursing home. They can give you information and forms, or direct you to an attorney if needed.

it gives you the right to sign his name.....i had one when my ex was over seas

I have a very good attorney you could talk to. Also, what do you do in the wellness industry?

the question is-how is he mentally. Is he in the nursing home because of physical or mental (such as dementia). Next step is talk with the attorney who drew up the papers.

Hi S.,
I am POA for my grandmother, who is in assisted living. You should be able to sign checks, etc. as long as you've provided the bank w/ a copy of the POA paperwork. Your husband should sign his own name, followed by "POA". It might be easier for him if he were to bring his dad in to the bank have your husband added to the account. Sometimes it is a hassel to get things done, even w/ a POA. If his father is having dementia issues or anything like that, I would suggest looking into a conservatorship to be able to fully protect him. It's a more drawn out procedure (you have to go to court), and does cost some $, but would give your husband full authority in the case that his father isn't able to make safe decisions for himself. Otherwise, he could decide to walk out of the nursing home and you couldn't stop him.
I know that is more info than you were asking for, but I've been going through this for the past few years w/ my Gma. It can be a very frustrating process!
Make an appointment w/ a good lawyer who can explain everything.
Good Luck!!

I'd talk to a bank manager and ask how to handle this.

If his dad is still mentally coherent and understands and can sign documents, then he should be able to add your husband onto his bank accounts. If the dad has been declared mentally incapacitated by a doctor, meaning that the dad is no longer able to mentally make financial or legal decisions for himself, then your husband may have to go to probate court and ask to be made a conservator over his dad. I believe he will need a physician's letter declaring his dad incapacitated in order to be appointed conservator. Some things about a conservatorship: all siblings/spouses (known as interested parties) would be notified of the pending conservatorship and if they choose to contest it, they can attend the hearing. If your husband becomes a conservator, he will have to account for how the money is spent every year by filing an annual account with the court. Let's say that your father-in-law ends up needing to go on Medicaid to cover his nursing home costs--make sure you contact an attorney who specializes in Medicaid and estate planning--very important as it can be very overwhelming and confusing. In the mean time, can his dad still sign the checks to pay his bills? Does his dad still understand what checks are for? If the answer is yes, than again, his dad can probably add him to the accounts. Let's say that if your husband's name is not on the account and he signs the check (I hate saying forge), with his dad's name, that could get him in trouble if someone in the family or even his dad ever decides to challenge it. I have power of attorney over my mother and my name is on all her accounts. I have spoken to several Medicaid specialists and estate planning attorneys--always have them on hand. Even though my mom has dementia, she can still sign her own checks, but isn't always certain what needs to be paid, when it needs to be be paid, etc. so I handle everything. I know it's alot of information, but my best advice to you is to always make sure you have an attorney/social worker on hand who specializes in estate planning--it can be critical. Good luck to your husband--this is a very big responsibility. It's much easier being a parent over your child than being a parent to your parent.

Best Wishes,


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