It has happened.  Your loved one is no longer capable of making financial decisions and its your time to step in.  You take the Power of Attorney nominating you as Agent to the financial institution and the representative tells you, “sorry, we cannot accept this document”.

Unfortunately, we get calls like this from frustrated Agents frequently.  Often because the bank or financial institution doesn’t provide a reason why they are not accepting the Power of Attorney.

One potential reason could be due to the effective date of the document.  Arizona, like most states, give a person (called “Principal”) an option as to when the Power of Attorney becomes effective.

Option #1: Effective immediately upon signature.  This effective date provides the Agent the ability of acting now. As soon as the document is signed, regardless of the Principal’s capacity, the Agent can step in and transact business for the benefit of the Principal.

Option #2: Springing.  A springing Power of Attorney provides that the document ‘springs’ into action upon disability and this is often the reason a bank will not accept the document.  The bank needs confirmation that the Principal can no longer act.  In this instance, the document should provide instruction on what you need to do.  Such as obtain the written statement of incapacity from (typically) one or two physicians.  Often, in times of crisis, it is difficult for the Agent to track down your treating physicians to get a statement(s) of incapacity.

Review the Power of Attorney to see when yours is effective.   If you have any questions or need legal advice in properly fulfilling your duties as Agent, contact the attorneys at Bivens & Associates, PLLC for more information.

-Rachel S. Zaslow, Esq.