How Do I Use My Mother’s Durable Power of Attorney?

 In Durable Powers of Attorney

Question:

My mother granted me her durable power of attorney six months ago and she now has rapidly advancing dementia but I am not sure how to use it.

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Response:

You need to take the original durable power of attorney to the banks and other financial institutions where your mother has accounts and ask to be added to them. You will be asked to sign a signature card or other form the institution uses and will be added to the accounts. After that, you will be able to sign checks, make deposits and withdrawals, and move your mother’s investments as you deem appropriate for her. Make sure the financial institutions only take a copy of the durable power of attorney so that you keep the original.

Your role as “attorney-in-fact” for your mother is a “fiduciary” role, meaning that you must always act in your mother’s best interest. It is important that you always keep good records of everything you do on her behalf just in case anyone (for instance, your siblings, if any) ask any questions. Sometimes people spending hours taking care of an older parent get “rewarded” by others second guessing their actions. The more transparency you provide, the less likely you’ll suffer any complaints.

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