When banks prioritize their interests over customer service, we all lose.

wells_fargo_realityI have yet to be convinced that the default process being used by banks put into place to protect our accounts is reasonable. Today reminded me of how frustrating it is to deal with Wells Fargo in particular.

My client wanted me to step in as POA to help on her accounts, so we went to the bank and set it up so I could easily act on her behalf. She was with me and we used the Wells Fargo form to set it up and the whole process took an hour–it should have taken 10 minutes. The first banker had no idea how to even do it, so we waited for the “senior banker”.  The “senior banker” had to call the “back office” to be walked through the process.

My client has estate plans and a trust in place, but her son is not in the area. I was stepping in to help while she was transitioning from her home into a life care community.  We are on the other side of the transition and now that Wells Fargo has the Trust and all the beneficiaries is in alignment with her plans, I wanted to step down as POA.

I visited the bank to resign thinking it would be relatively easy. The first appointment took over an hour as I first had to wait for the “senior banker”, and then we sat on the phone as he called the “back office” to get tutored on what to do. I was told I had to bring in a letter formally resigning. They didn’t have a form, or any further instructions.

When I returned with my “resignation letter” I was working with a different banker.  While thankfully, I was attended to right away, we then had to wait on hold in the queue for the “back office” for 25 minutes. This time the “back office” tells us there are specific things that had to be included in the resignation. My typed up letter put her name in the header, not in the sentence, so that letter didn’t work. After 45 minutes, I am really annoyed since the “letter requirements” were not provided to me on my first visit.

This banker understands my frustration and grabs a piece of paper and asks me to hand write the resignation.

Ummmm, you mean I could have done that on the first visit?

Yes, I could have. He is now talking with a contact at “document review” to finish the process to complete what Wells Fargo needs to complete the resignation.

Prompts to the banker who helped me on this last visit. He is the kind of banker you want, but the Wells Fargo systems are a hindrance to building a positive relationship with CUSTOMERS.

I am frustrated. Wells Fargo is doing this for THEM, not for my CLIENT, or for ME. We are both customers. For the millions of caregivers who are going to have to go through this laborious process, be forewarned and do it before you need it. It only gets harder.

I miss the smaller bank I used to work with. I came first. I’ve also seen this with my clients and colleagues. The big name banks prioritize their interests and procedure before customer service.   

** I left my smaller bank because their online banking was very difficult to use and unreliable. Open to recommendations for banks in the NoVA!

Will Wells Fargo Accept Your DPOA?

Will Wells Fargo Accept Your DPOA?

Having a roadmap to your assets along with a back up plan should your durable power of attorney be refused is now something every adult should do.

Dealing with Dementia

wellsfargoAs I began to use the Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) several years ago, I found out that many banks don’t like them. They would prefer you use the one they supply that doesn’t give you control over when it goes into effect or a way to dictate specific wishes. If and when you need to use one, you will find that getting them to accept it, can take hours in the bank and then possibly weeks to months to resolve issues.

Last month, I went in to clear up two checking accounts and remove my Dad’s name the accounts. It took over two hours to have it processed and the two accounts cleaned up. I was already listed on my parents major account, so I think they weren’t so worried about giving my access and POA rights over the second smaller checking account.

However, I have hit a major…

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Using a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)

My parents did what the estate lawyer recommended. As well as the financial planner and insurance professional. However, when the time came for me to step in and help them using their Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA), things were a little more difficult that we all expected.

One of the major firms told me they would not accept a DPOA that was over two years old; a second told me they didn’t accept ones more than five years old. It happens though it shouldn’t, and sometimes you may need the lawyer who drafted the agreement to pursue it for you.

Legal tools alone won’t handle every situation. However, every adult should consider meeting with an estate lawyer to discuss your needs.  Because of my experience, I recommend that even those with estate plans take the extra step of documenting their information. For the estimated bulk of Americans without any estate plans (power of attorney, medical directives, will) , for your own best-interest, you should get your documents, accounts, and assets organized.

In my case, my dad sat down with me and we created online access to many of their accounts from their retirement to utilities, so that I could easily help pay bills, manage cash flow, their household and finances.

Are you prepared? If not, my free gift to you is a list of the items you need to document, download it here.

To get a copy of the award-winning system to help you collect and organize your documents, accounts, and assets, you can order a copy from Amazon, BAM!, or Barnes & Noble.  For $17.95, MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Life will not only help you easily find your important information, but will give a road map to a loved one who you may need to step in and help, if even only temporarily.

Celebrities Illustrate the Good, Bad and Ugly in Life Planning

The Forbes story The 10 Biggest Celebrity Estate Stories Of 2014 And What You Can Learn illustrate good planning, bad planning and the ugly side of family feuds after a loved one dies.

From complicated family issues for Robin Williams, to misinformation about “trust fund kids” by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, it’s easy to stop and gawk. However, it’s reported that more than half of all American’s die without a will.

I’m lucky that my parents shared their wishes with me and my siblings and completed their estate plans well before we needed to use the tools created.

When you turn 65 years old, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you have a 70 percent chance of needing 3 or more years of long-term care. You will be on this earth and need someone to advocate for you, pay your bills, manage your household and ensure that you live the life the way you wish.

If you do nothing else, contact a local estate lawyer about a Durable Power of Attorney. It should cost a few hundred dollars and will prove to be priceless in the very likely event that you need it.

Don’t repeat the mistakes of the rich and famous. Deliver the ultimate gift to your loved ones by planning now.

The Basic Life Preparedness Tool: Durable Power of Attorney

POAAs we move into the holiday season and prepare to enjoy time with family and friends, consider finding out if loved ones have a durable power of attorney. Everyone should anticipate that they may be unable to handle their affairs at some point during their adult lives. A power of attorney gives the individual you appoint the ability to act on your behalf until you recover.

As soon as you reach 18, it’s recommended that a power of attorney is in place with a trusted family member.  Parents have found that they are unable to learn about an adult child’s healthcare issues if they don’t have a medical power of attorney in place — even through they are paying for their healthcare expenses.

The statistics regarding the likelihood that you may need someone to step in and help are alarming—some 43 percent of all people age 40 now will have a long-term disability event (lasting 90 or more days) prior to reaching age 65. And seven out of ten people who turn 65 today will need some type of long-term care services and support lasting three or more years.

A durable power of attorney typically costs just a few-hundred dollars. We recommend you consult with a lawyer dedicated to the practice of estate law licensed in your state to determine your needs.

Related News Stories

The Power of Attorney Can Help With a Loved Ones Care
Your Daily Journal 11/28/2014
A good overview explaining the benefits of a power of attorney.

Veterans Fighting Back Over Power of Attorney
WTNH 11/13/2014
A story that illustrates the risk of not already having a power of attorney in place.

Guardianship vs. Power of Attorney Not Usually Choices
Poughkeepsie Journal, 11/9/2014
The expense and cost to your dignity when a loved one has to petition the court for guardianship make a power of attorney the preferred choice.

If you want to learn about my life experience (both good and bad) in using a Durable Power of Attorney to help my aging parents, check out Dealing with Dementia.