Friday, May 3, 2013

The "Wrinkle" of the Day...

After my grandmother died, I noticed that her online bank account (on which I am a signee) showed a balance of $120+, but an "available balance" of $0.  So I called the bank, and her account had been "frozen" because she is deceased. I assume that the Social Security office notified the bank of her demise.  The bank employee I spoke with told me that I would have to come in and show proof that I was the Power of Attorney, present a death certificate - "Or..." she said, "you can even bring a newspaper clipping of the obituary... just something to prove that she is deceased and you are designated to manage her account."  (How an obit from a newspaper clipping would prove that is beyond me!) 

So today, I took in a copy of the death certificate, and a copy of my Power of Attorney papers to the bank and presented it to one of the tellers.  The teller was very nice, but profusely apologetic as she explained that... "When your grandmother died, your rights as a signee disappeared.  Your Power of Attorney is no longer valid on this account.  Only the person she designated as the recipient of her funds upon her death can close the account."  Now, I'm thinking... that's probably my dad, and he is dead, too!  I asked... "Who is that?"  She told me the name... it was my mother.

The teller kept saying, "I'm so sorry!  I'm so sorry!  They don't tell you these things ahead of time.  There was no way you could have known.  I'm so sorry."  I thanked her for her empathy... I felt she was sincere and truly, I did appreciate her attitude.  Clearly her hands were tied.

So I went back to the car and drove to my mother's house and handed her the copy of the death certificate and told her that she would need to go to the bank and close the account.  She could not believe it, but she said she would do this, of course.

The teller wanted to know who I spoke to on the telephone when I got information about how to do this.  She especially wanted to know who I talked to when I told her the bit about bringing in a newspaper obituary.  For the life of me, I could not remember the girl's name...and I'm pretty sure she was located in another city, because of the way the phone seemed to "ring through" to an extension... probably in this bank's main branch.

The point in sharing this is to say that I am beyond being surprised at this point by bureaucracy and paperwork - in all aspects of our society.  We were talking less than $125, for goodness' sake!  But you might want to check the fine print on your senior's banking business - if you are managing the finances and make sure that you are not only a signee on the account... but that you are the designated recipient of any funds upon this person's death.  It would have made things simpler and saved at least one of us an extra trip!