Can a signed bank POA close accounts after principal dies?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 17, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have been my fathers POA for years through our bank.I also have DFPOA,DHCPOA,GDPOA,an ESTATE /MEDICAID PLANNING through an ELDER LAW ATTORNEY.When my father past away last month (march 4) i did know that my POA was revoked and someone else was his poa.As of (March 21) the new poa withdrew/closed all my fathers accounts,trying to get my life insurance,refuses to return my items.What do i do?

Expert Answers

All Durable Powers of Attorney for finances become invalid once the principal dies. After the death of a the principal, there cannot be a legally-valid DPA giving someone new power over the principal's finances.

I do not know under what authority the "new POA" acted to close your father's accounts, but I doubt if that authority was under a Durable Powers of Attorney for finances. If it allegedly was, fraud was committed, and the bank involved, as well as the new person, can be held liable.

Perhaps the new person is your father's executor his will. I simply do not know enough to give you a definitive answer regarding what authority, if any, this new person is acting under (or claims to be acting under). Did your father have a will? Who is the executor? Why were you not named as the executor? Has a probate proceeding been started?

I am also unclear what you mean when you state that the new person is "trying to get my life insurance." Clearly, this new person has no right to YOUR life insurance. Do your mean that the new person is trying to get access to a life insurance policy on your father? If there is such a policy, the life insurance proceeds are payable to whoever is named the beneficiary in that policy. The new person has no power to change this.

Finally, I don't understand what you mean when you state that the new person refuses to return your item. What items? Were these items in your father's dwelling? How do you prove that these are your items?

The best thing for you told do is to talk about all this with the new person, and see if he or she will act reasonably. If not, you may face a stark choice of (1) not being able to control or have input over what is being done and (2) filing a lawsuit contesting the decisions (and perhaps authority) of the new person.