Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

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DarkHelmetII
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Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by DarkHelmetII »

Hello,

My wife is alive and able-minded but just too busy with work, so getting her to do things such as check account balances, move $$ out of a high fee HSA account etc... is like pulling teeth. Is this a suitable situation for me to setup a Power of Attorney (POA)? What I'd like to be able to do - if this is possible - is furnish the POA to any financial institution and "magically" be able to then do whatever the POA outlines without having my wife to do anything ... even the seemingly simple task of getting her on the phone to "verify" with the customer representative that I can do action X is a nuisance.

Thank you.
Last edited by DarkHelmetII on Sun Jul 19, 2020 8:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
afan
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by afan »

You can do that. Most financial institutions require their own POA forms, which usually require a notarized signature. Perhaps collect the forms from all the companies plus a general POA and have a date to the notary to sign them all at once.
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ResearchMed
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by ResearchMed »

DarkHelmetII wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 5:13 am Hello,

My wife is alive and able-minded but just too busy with work, so getting her to do things such as check account balances, move $$ out of a high fee HSA account etc... is like pulling teeth. Is this a suitable situation for me to setup a Power of Attorney (POA)? What I'd like to be able to do - if this is possible - is furnish the POA to any financial institution and "magically" be able to then do whatever the POA outlines without having my wife to do anything ... even the seemingly simple task of getting her on the phone the "verify" with the customer representative that I can do action X is a nuisance.

Thank you.
That's fine as long as your wife wants that. That is what a PoA is for.

Now, since you are mentioning "able minded", you may want to get a DURABLE PoA. That means it will continue to be in effect when she is no longer competent. Otherwise, with a plain PoA - but check the terms of the form you are using! - it will cease to be in effect upon incompetency, which is often when people want a PoA most.

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Raybo
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by Raybo »

My DW doesn't have much interest in the minutiae of account maintenance. So, she gave me her permission to access her account at Vanguard and when I login, I see both of our details. I can buy/sell in both accounts, as well.

Maybe this would solve your problem.
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BuddyJet
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by BuddyJet »

While a durable power of attorney should be accepted, my experience is that they aren’t and every financial institution requires their own POA form. For real estate, I had to get a POA specific to that property.

My advice is to decide on a few institutions and get POA for them.

I am in a similar situation and have found Fidelity easy to deal with on my spouse’s separate property. Amex has a “manager” status that lets me deal with her Amex credit cards. On other cards, I added her as an authorized user so she doesn’t need to talk to them. For routine stuff, I login as her.

When no other solution, I make call, get to a person for issue, explain issue, tell them that my wife is available, pass phone, she asks them to talk to me and passes phone back.
People say nothing is impossible. I do nothing all day.
Katietsu
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by Katietsu »

There are also different levels of permission. For instance, I have the ability to talk to Fidelity about DH’s tax advantaged retirement accounts. I can change investments and change contribution amounts. But I could not withdraw money or complete a rollover.
mptfan
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by mptfan »

afan wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 5:38 am You can do that. Most financial institutions require their own POA forms, which usually require a notarized signature. Perhaps collect the forms from all the companies plus a general POA and have a date to the notary to sign them all at once.
This. Also note that some financial institutions allow different levels of access and you do not need to fill out and notarize a POA form to get a lower level of access depending on the level of access you need. For example, Fidelity has the following levels of authorized access... Inquiry access, Limited Authority, Full Authority, and Power of Attorney (POA). Their website describes what authority you have with each level of authorized access, and you can enable any of the other levels electronically (except for POA) without filling out or notarizing the POA form.
bighatnohorse
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by bighatnohorse »

Vanguard has a "Full Agent Authorization" form which allows spouses actionable access to each other's accounts.
tibbitts
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by tibbitts »

Forget the idea of having a single PoA work for multiple institutions, and while each one will have it's own form and terms (various level of agent authorization, etc.) you're still going to have problems. Having a generic PoA is a good idea in a sense, but ultimately not that practical.
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DarkHelmetII
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by DarkHelmetII »

afan wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 5:38 am You can do that. Most financial institutions require their own POA forms, which usually require a notarized signature. Perhaps collect the forms from all the companies plus a general POA and have a date to the notary to sign them all at once.
I will check 1 or 2 institutions. If notarization of institution specific paperwork is required defeats the purpose at least for me. Thanks for the input.
Bobby206
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by Bobby206 »

As noted above POAs are a pain since most financial institutions do not honor general POAs. Better off to just gather all forms and then put them in front of spouse with a pen. That's what I do. Then she is technically involved in the decision which she likes.
HomeStretch
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by HomeStretch »

If spouse is in agreement, it is a good idea IMO for each of you to execute a durable POA and to get them on file with your financial institutions.

Spouse and I each have a durable POA naming the other as our attorney-in-fact. We have submitted the POAs or completed the financial institution’s form of POA for all accounts (except one 401k that does not allow POAs). We did this in conjunction with our estate planning in case one of us becomes incapacitated. It also is very helpful to me in managing our investments.
TravelforFun
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by TravelforFun »

DarkHelmetII wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 5:13 am Hello,

My wife is alive and able-minded but just too busy with work, so getting her to do things such as check account balances, move $$ out of a high fee HSA account etc... is like pulling teeth. Is this a suitable situation for me to setup a Power of Attorney (POA)? What I'd like to be able to do - if this is possible - is furnish the POA to any financial institution and "magically" be able to then do whatever the POA outlines without having my wife to do anything ... even the seemingly simple task of getting her on the phone to "verify" with the customer representative that I can do action X is a nuisance.

Thank you.
If your wife trusted you enough to sign POAs, why wouldn't she give you her login info for you to manage her finance for her? I'm taking care of both of our finances (with her approval, of course) but we have no POAs.

TravelforFun
tibbitts
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by tibbitts »

TravelforFun wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:13 pm
DarkHelmetII wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 5:13 am Hello,

My wife is alive and able-minded but just too busy with work, so getting her to do things such as check account balances, move $$ out of a high fee HSA account etc... is like pulling teeth. Is this a suitable situation for me to setup a Power of Attorney (POA)? What I'd like to be able to do - if this is possible - is furnish the POA to any financial institution and "magically" be able to then do whatever the POA outlines without having my wife to do anything ... even the seemingly simple task of getting her on the phone to "verify" with the customer representative that I can do action X is a nuisance.

Thank you.
If your wife trusted you enough to sign POAs, why wouldn't she give you her login info for you to manage her finance for her? I'm taking care of both of our finances (with her approval, of course) but we have no POAs.

TravelforFun
I think this is the point where someone will point out that some institutions publish policies that you sharing your account with anyone, even an authorized person, may deter them from covering you in the event of fraud. So you are technically violating your agreement with them. Whether anyone has ever been denied fraud coverage (when fraud actually occurred by a 3rd party, but not the party the access was shared with) I don't think anyone knows.

I think the institution's concern is not so much the person you give the access to, it's that when you give your credentials to your 137 closest relatives and friends, they may all put them in a plain text Notepad file on their win98 PC, email them to each other, etc. etc. It becomes an exponential problem.

You run into a similar situation after death: do you continue accessing someone's account once they've passed, when obviously it would be convenient to do so.
mptfan
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by mptfan »

TravelforFun wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:13 pm If your wife trusted you enough to sign POAs, why wouldn't she give you her login info for you to manage her finance for her? I'm taking care of both of our finances (with her approval, of course) but we have no POAs.
The issue you may run into is there are times when you may have to contact the financial provider by phone.
mptfan
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by mptfan »

tibbitts wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:20 pm You run into a similar situation after death: do you continue accessing someone's account once they've passed, when obviously it would be convenient to do so.
This is an issue even if you have a POA, including a POA authorized on the provider's forms, because your authority to act on someone's behalf pursuant to a power of attorney ends upon the person's death.
tibbitts
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by tibbitts »

mptfan wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:25 pm
TravelforFun wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:13 pm If your wife trusted you enough to sign POAs, why wouldn't she give you her login info for you to manage her finance for her? I'm taking care of both of our finances (with her approval, of course) but we have no POAs.
The issue you may run into is there are times when you may have to contact the financial provider by phone.
I know; any handy same-sex person used to suffice, but now that even traditionally low-tech Vanguard keeps your voice on file, maybe not so much.
tibbitts
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by tibbitts »

mptfan wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:27 pm
tibbitts wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:20 pm You run into a similar situation after death: do you continue accessing someone's account once they've passed, when obviously it would be convenient to do so.
This is an issue even if you have a POA, including a POA authorized on the provider's forms, because your authority to act on someone's behalf pursuant to a power of attorney ends upon the person's death.
Correct. You may be transcending a policy violation and moving into legal violation territory, but I figured I could always claim ignorance, as long as I didn't mention accessing any accounts on a popular internet forum where I use my actual name. Oops.
mptfan
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by mptfan »

tibbitts wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:30 pm I know; any handy same-sex person used to suffice, but now that even traditionally low-tech Vanguard keeps your voice on file, maybe not so much.
In my opinion it is not advisable to solicit a third person to impersonate your spouse on the phone with your financial provider. Aside from being outright deception, I can come up with several reasons why that is not a good idea.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by adamthesmythe »

Sometimes being too busy is a low-conflict way of avoiding doing something that you don't want to do.

If my wife was busy making money...and not getting into debt...and I didn't completely agree with the way she was managing it...I might let well enough alone.
123
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by 123 »

I'll ask the obvious (to me) question. Why not simply add you on as a joint account owner on her accounts? Are there family/household/legal issues that dictate separate accounts are the preferred choice?

Generalized POA forms often don't work very well with financial firms, most want you to use their own. As a result they can have cumbersome signature requirements, like notaries or other validation signatories. Often the most expedient method is to (jointly) walk into a branch and sign them there, might be okay if the firm has branches.
Last edited by 123 on Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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tibbitts
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by tibbitts »

mptfan wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:35 pm
tibbitts wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:30 pm I know; any handy same-sex person used to suffice, but now that even traditionally low-tech Vanguard keeps your voice on file, maybe not so much.
In my opinion it is not advisable to solicit a third person to impersonate your spouse on the phone with your financial provider. Aside from being outright deception, I can come up with several reasons why that is not a good idea.
I can't remember that I've ever done that personally, but I'm not sure it would have been "worse" than performing transactions on dead people's accounts. I can come up with several reasons why many things I do aren't a good idea.
tibbitts
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by tibbitts »

123 wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:09 pm I'll ask the obvious (to me) question. Why not simply add you on as a joint account owner on her accounts? Are there family/household/legal issues that dictate separate accounts are the preferred choice?
Many account types have a primary account holder and only that person is allowed to perform transactions, or make queries, etc. Each provider is different. Remember, we're not really talking just about Vanguard accounts, and not always a spouse. We're talking about inquiring about that Explanation of Benefits on your relative's health insurance, or disputing a credit card charge. Policies really are all over the place.
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ResearchMed
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by ResearchMed »

123 wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:09 pm I'll ask the obvious (to me) question. Why not simply add you on as a joint account owner on her accounts? Are there family/household/legal issues that dictate separate accounts are the preferred choice?

Generalized POA forms often don't work very well with financial firms, most want you to use their own. As a result they can have cumbersome signature requirements, like notaries or other validation signatories. Often the most expedient method is to (jointly) walk into a branch and sign them there, might be okay if the firm has branches.
There cannot be joint owners for IRA and 403b/401k type accounts. Not allowed.
For example, "IRA" = "Individual Retirement Account"

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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by mptfan »

tibbitts wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:17 pmRemember, we're not really talking just about Vanguard accounts, and not always a spouse.
The OP asked about a spouse and my answers referred to a spouse. I agree that handling accounts of others who are not spouses may be different.
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by mptfan »

tibbitts wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:10 pm I can't remember that I've ever done that personally, but I'm not sure it would have been "worse" than performing transactions on dead people's accounts.
I did not offer an opinion that it would have been "worse" than performing transactions on dead people's accounts.
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by TravelforFun »

ResearchMed wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:18 pm
123 wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:09 pm I'll ask the obvious (to me) question. Why not simply add you on as a joint account owner on her accounts? Are there family/household/legal issues that dictate separate accounts are the preferred choice?

Generalized POA forms often don't work very well with financial firms, most want you to use their own. As a result they can have cumbersome signature requirements, like notaries or other validation signatories. Often the most expedient method is to (jointly) walk into a branch and sign them there, might be okay if the firm has branches.
There cannot be joint owners for IRA and 403b/401k type accounts. Not allowed.
For example, "IRA" = "Individual Retirement Account"

RM
You don't have to be a joint owner to access someone's IRA account. At Fidelity, the account owner can assign you as authorized user and you can access and make trades on the account on behalf of the owner. I don't know about other institutions.

TravelforFun
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by inbox788 »

ResearchMed wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:18 pm
123 wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:09 pm I'll ask the obvious (to me) question. Why not simply add you on as a joint account owner on her accounts? Are there family/household/legal issues that dictate separate accounts are the preferred choice?

Generalized POA forms often don't work very well with financial firms, most want you to use their own. As a result they can have cumbersome signature requirements, like notaries or other validation signatories. Often the most expedient method is to (jointly) walk into a branch and sign them there, might be okay if the firm has branches.
There cannot be joint owners for IRA and 403b/401k type accounts. Not allowed.
For example, "IRA" = "Individual Retirement Account"

RM
OP, you have time to figure out and execute a Power of Attorney?

I'd just pull the teeth necessary and be done with it. Joint accounts are simplest when possible, and she can log you into her accounts as necessary. If you have to deal with customer service, get in contact with them when you're together (or on a 3 way call) and have her authorize the agent to discuss the matter with you. It's painful, but a constant reminder to set things up simply and let them grow unattended and automatically as possible.
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ResearchMed
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by ResearchMed »

TravelforFun wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 6:36 pm
ResearchMed wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:18 pm
123 wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:09 pm I'll ask the obvious (to me) question. Why not simply add you on as a joint account owner on her accounts? Are there family/household/legal issues that dictate separate accounts are the preferred choice?

Generalized POA forms often don't work very well with financial firms, most want you to use their own. As a result they can have cumbersome signature requirements, like notaries or other validation signatories. Often the most expedient method is to (jointly) walk into a branch and sign them there, might be okay if the firm has branches.
[emphasis added]

There cannot be joint owners for IRA and 403b/401k type accounts. Not allowed.
For example, "IRA" = "Individual Retirement Account"

RM
You don't have to be a joint owner to access someone's IRA account. At Fidelity, the account owner can assign you as authorized user and you can access and make trades on the account on behalf of the owner. I don't know about other institutions.

TravelforFun
Of course.... that's what agent authorization, PoA, etc. are for, and yes, at most such institutions (including all that we've ever dealt with over several decades, anyway).

The comment (123's "obvious ... question") I was addressing (which you included in the quoted section) was:

"...Why not simply add you on as a joint account owner ..." - and I was explaining why that is not, in fact, always possible, and hence the agent/PoA type documents would be required.

RM
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by RetiredAL »

TravelforFun wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 6:36 pm
ResearchMed wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:18 pm
123 wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:09 pm I'll ask the obvious (to me) question. Why not simply add you on as a joint account owner on her accounts? Are there family/household/legal issues that dictate separate accounts are the preferred choice?

Generalized POA forms often don't work very well with financial firms, most want you to use their own. As a result they can have cumbersome signature requirements, like notaries or other validation signatories. Often the most expedient method is to (jointly) walk into a branch and sign them there, might be okay if the firm has branches.
There cannot be joint owners for IRA and 403b/401k type accounts. Not allowed.
For example, "IRA" = "Individual Retirement Account"

RM
You don't have to be a joint owner to access someone's IRA account. At Fidelity, the account owner can assign you as authorized user and you can access and make trades on the account on behalf of the owner. I don't know about other institutions.

TravelforFun
In my case I did this online to my son who was known to Fidelity without getting Notary involved. They sent him a link to complete his agent side of the process. I have no experience with this if the user has no Fidelity relationship.

It's not as complete as Fidelity's full POA which requires both Notary and witnesses. The full POA's that DW and I did to each other were done at Fidelity's local office because of this dual requirement.

Do note that Fidelity's regular POA is considered 'durable'. Schwab's regular POA is 'not durable'. I have no knowledge of Vanguard Agent as to its 'durability'.
mhalley
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by mhalley »

I guess I’ll be the bad guy here. This is HER money, and she isn’t taking care of it. No one is that busy. Maybe I’m wrong and she’s running a Fortune 500 company working 16 hour days, but most likely she is just not interested. I tried for many years to get my wife to take an interest in our finances, but except for putting her in the clockwork orange chair once a year I could not get her to take any interest whatsoever. So I just did everything online, (with her permission).
https://www.google.com/search?q=clockwo ... HNoMYzk-LM
Nummerkins
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by Nummerkins »

My wife and I share a password manager. There's well over 500 accounts in there. When one of us gets a security code we didnt request, we automatically forward it to the other. Works great. And no, I dont care in the least about any finger wagging about password sharing. It's my spouse and we operate as one financial unit.

I get this is not for everyone but in our case its great.
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GenawithanE
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by GenawithanE »

Lately, I feel like there is a meta thread of spouses (seem mostly to be men) who are frustrated that their SO (seem usually to be women) won’t take the same approach to money and finances as the poster and are trying to figure out how to control them/their money. Cheers to those commenters who note the first principle of “it is her decision.” My father was frugal to a fault, his budget would put 99.98% of BH to shame. My mother suffered from his rabid insistence on frugality and it drove my insistence on having separate accounting in our marriage, each contributed to joint expenses and the rest of each’s income and spending was none of the other one’s business. Happy marriage. Happy early retirement. I don’t think that is just luck. We discussed shared goals for retirement savings and joint investments, and then executed them. I do the things that are important to me, like track our spending and figure out which credit card has the best rewards for us and how to use our miles most effectively. He learns about stuff like beta and portfolio visualizer. He glances at my spending reports for a good millisecond a year.
If your SO isn’t doing it “your way” then be sure you have the same vision, and not just your vision. If she is happy to let you manage the bill paying, investment management, etc., then she will enable you to do it. Besides, if you are a good BH, there should not be much to do, right? Three fund portfolio and all!
mptfan
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by mptfan »

Nummerkins wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:28 pm My wife and I share a password manager. There's well over 500 accounts in there. When one of us gets a security code we didnt request, we automatically forward it to the other. Works great. And no, I dont care in the least about any finger wagging about password sharing. It's my spouse and we operate as one financial unit.
You will get no finger wagging from me, I think it's great that you operate as one financial unit. As a suggestion regarding getting security codes, some financial institutions allow you to have more than one phone number or more than one email address, so when you need a security code you can select which number or which email to send it to, that way each of you can choose your number or your email address to receive the security code when you need it. For example Schwab allows you to choose from among your several account phone numbers and email addresses before sending the security code. Sometimes it's not obvious if an institution allows for more than one phone number or email address, you have to look around and find the "add phone" or "add email" or similar button. Another option is to have shared access to one of your emails and use that email for security codes. For example, if you both use Gmail, it is easy to link your respective Gmails so that you can access each other's email. Another option is to add your email and your spouse's number to each account so you can choose whichever is more convenient to receive the code.
Last edited by mptfan on Mon Jul 20, 2020 2:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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cheese_breath
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by cheese_breath »

Let me tell you from experience you NEED to have her Durable POA, Medical POA, and HIPAA authority. And she NEEDS to have yours. My DW had a massive stroke in 2017, and I didn't have any of them. I chose to go private pay for her nursing home, but if I'd wanted to go with Medicaid I would have needed to go through the whole guardianship-conservative process to get authority to spend down her small individual bank accounts. If not for the fact that the nursing home doctor provided me with a statement attesting to her incompetence, a hospital wouldn't have recognized my authority for them to do a needle biopsy to see if her cancer had returned. When I moved us to Texas her insurance companies wouldn't update her address until I had her POA, and I couldn't retitle the car to Texas.

I couldn't get these documents as long as we were in Michigan because the lawyer required verbal confirmations from her, and the stroke affected her ability to talk. Thankfully, when we moved to Texas I found a lawyer who would accept nodding of the head to yes and no questions as confirmation. If not for that I can't imagine the mess I'd be in now.

edit: I forgot to mention, I couldn't have sold our Michigan house either. And renting it out wouldn't have been an option, because that requires authorization by all the owners.
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Nummerkins
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Re: Power of Attorney? Spouse too Busy.

Post by Nummerkins »

mptfan wrote: Mon Jul 20, 2020 7:39 am
Nummerkins wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:28 pm My wife and I share a password manager. There's well over 500 accounts in there. When one of us gets a security code we didnt request, we automatically forward it to the other. Works great. And no, I dont care in the least about any finger wagging about password sharing. It's my spouse and we operate as one financial unit.
You will get no finger wagging from me, I think it's great that you operate as one financial unit. As a suggestion regarding getting security codes, some financial institutions allow you to have more than one phone number or more than one email address, so when you need a security code you can select which number or which email to send it to, that way each of you can choose your number or your email address to receive the security code when you need it. For example Schwab allows you to choose from among your several account phone numbers and email addresses before sending the security code. Sometimes it's not obvious if an institution allows for more than one phone number or email address, you have to look around and find the "add phone" or "add email" or similar button. Another option is to have shared access to one of your emails and use that email for security codes. For example, if you both use Gmail, it is easy to link your respective Gmails so that you can access each other's email. Another option is to add your email and your spouse's number to each account so you can choose whichever is more convenient to receive the code.
Thanks, I do have dual phone/emails where possible! I wish more institutions supported this. Also we both use Gmail so have proxy access to each other's accounts. Really handy.
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