Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by LadyGeek »

HomeStretch wrote: Sun Sep 04, 2022 8:15 am
LadyGeek wrote: Sun Sep 04, 2022 7:59 am
HomeStretch wrote: Sat Sep 03, 2022 2:09 am
Fremdon Ferndock wrote: Fri Sep 02, 2022 8:25 pm … What about Fidelity and Schwab. Do they give you anything in writing to confirm that they've accepted your attorney-prepared DPOA? …
Yes (Fidelity).

I recently transferred my parents’ accounts (Taxable, Traditional & Roth IRAs) to and set up CMAs at Fidelity using attorney-prepared DPOAs. After acceptance of the submitted DPOAs, we received secured messages in their online account and in my online account that the POA set up was completed. In their online accounts, they can view who has DPOA access. In my online account, their accounts show up on the side bar under the heading “authorized accounts.” There is also a notation at the end of their monthly statement listing my name (I don’t recall the wording).

My only issues with the DPOA process/access:
(1) Fidelity reps/local office gave inaccurate information about the agent’s (me) ability to do transactions online in a CMA such as Bill Pay. We ended up changing the CMA account registration to “joint owners”.
(2) in the online account, the agent (me) cannot make online transfers between accounts, view account statements, link external bank accounts, etc. There is also a limit for the first 90(?) days as to how much Fidelity will allow me as agent to transfer out of the accounts.
Have you checked the access level? See: How to Authorize Others to Access Your Accounts

Your issues sound like your access is restricted to Inquiry Access. I recently received Inquiry Access for a family member's account and have the same visibility / control as you describe. It's appropriate for what's intended. In your case, see if you've been given the wrong access level.
Unfortunately, it was not an inquiry-access issue. I ran into these issues after my parents’ attorney-drafted DPOAs were accepted by Fidelity. Others have posted in the Fidelity one-stop-shop thread about the limitations too (which are not just limited to Fidelity). It’s simply that trying to manage someone’s finances completely under a DPOA is more cumbersome or restrictive than managing one’s own. I understand that’s by design but when one is also helping parents with living in their own home, healthcare matters, etc., the limitations/online capability limits just add to the time burden.

The biggest issue was the Fidelity reps not having a good understanding of how the CMAs function for the attorney-in-fact (AIF). The information repeatedly given to me was erroneous. I as AIF could not even access Bill Pay which was the primary reason for the CMAs. One rep finally said that the CMA is not a Fidelity product so to just keep “trying it out” to see if it worked. I finally gave up and the CMAs were changed to add me as a joint owner. Granted my issues were more time-sensitive as I was separating my parents’ finances for Medicaid purposes. So the 4-6 weeks I lost while trying to make the CMAs works as AIF was a bit stressful. It’s all good now. But I think it’s important for anyone managing finances under a POA or agent access to understand the delays and limitations especially if the grantor is truly incapacitated and can no longer help with eliminating roadblocks.
Those are excellent points, thank you.

I need full control of my Mom's account to add bank accounts for ACH transfers. I need to (1) Take distributions from her Traditional IRA and deposit them in her bank account and (2) Transfer money from her bank to a taxable account.

I am also in agreement that, regardless of great customer experiences with Fidelity, the information can indeed be incorrect. During the POA application process, my rep stated that the form did not need to be notarized because I was in PA, not CA.

Looking at the actual DPOA form (Durable POA - what I filled out), a notarized signature was indeed required. CA has a different method, hence the extra directions for CA residents. A quickly returned phone call clarified that I was correct.

The forms I completed were pre-filled by Fidelity. It's a great convenience and I really like the ability to save the PDF changes.

However, reading and understanding what those forms mean are two different things. My Mom's name and address were correct, but the account applications had the Mailing address "Same as residential" box checked. 99% of the time, it's a no-brainer and the box was automatically checked.

My Mom is in memory care, which is a qualified medical expense. Her physical address is at the memory care facility, but she can't receive any mail (nor is she competent to understand the content). I'll be executing a tax strategy to draw down her IRA (taxable income) and then claim her care facility fees as a medical expense. Essentially, I need to show that she's physically at this center, but must have all mail correspondence come to me.

So, I unchecked the box and entered my home address for her mailing address (versus entering my home address as my Mom's). Otherwise, the IRS will think my home is her memory care facility. Not good. I also discussed this with the rep and explained what I did. He agreed that this was the right approach.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by LadyGeek »

Here's an update:

Fidelity sent me a secure message a few days ago and bounced the durable POA form. :shock: My Standby POA + physician's statements were already accepted, so I was wondering why I needed that form in the first place. I replied to the message explaining just that and supplied the accepted forms.

Today, a senior Fidelity rep called me to say that everything was straightened out and my Mom's new accounts were created with a zero balance. The next step is for me to sign a Fidelity transfer of assets form (handled via secure message). I'll get the transfer form in a day or so.

(I also had a polite conversation with the senior rep about the POA mixup. Apparently, the (junior) rep who provided the initial guidance was not experienced with POAs. They're stretched thin and trying to do what they can to help. He appreciated the feedback and will follow-up internally.)

Since this is a POA, Fidelity will take care of the transfer - it can't be done online as you would do for a normal account. I confirmed that I have POA access (full agent authorization) at Vanguard. Once the paperwork is complete, the accounts will be transferred to Fidelity.

POA access makes things a bit more difficult when you try to do things online. So far, I don't see any way to add / view beneficiaries for my Mom's new accounts. I also don't see a way to add a bank online. (Fidelity has a form I can complete for that.) I'll wait until the funds transfer and the accounts go active before I start digging into the details.

The Fidelity rep stated that anything I can't do online can be accomplished with a phone call or visit to the local office.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by bling »

a bit of a naive question...is the primary reason for setting up DPOA access for lawful purposes? what happens if you knew the username/password of your parents' account (because they told you) and you managed the finances on their behalf that way? and you also had a lawyer written DPOA while you were doing this?
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by LadyGeek »

I asked that question when I first obtained POA for my Mom's bank accounts. In any case, I was present with my Mom when this was done and asked that same question. The bank officer said that I would be accessing the account "with her permission". I have no clue if that was legally OK, but I am on file as POA with the bank. If anything happens, I'm covered.

Additional info: Banks have their own POA forms. If your parents are able, go together with them to the bank and have them complete a POA form. You will then be able to discuss anything needed directly with the bank and make transactions on their behalf. That includes doing things in person - what I'm doing now.

The bank may also offer to supply you with a separate login with access to their account info.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by cas »

LadyGeek wrote: Fri Sep 09, 2022 7:54 pm The Fidelity rep stated that anything I can't do online can be accomplished with a phone call or visit to the local office.
I know I've seen RetiredAL post a list of what has to be done over the phone (can't be done online), when the version of the Fidelity form that uses the actual DPOA is implemented. I think it was upstream in this thread and within the last couple of weeks.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by LadyGeek »

Thanks! I think I found it: Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless.

I'll figure it out after the funds are transferred. I prefer to do everything online, but having good phone support and a local brick-n-mortar office close by, it's far better than the support I have now at Vanguard.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by cas »

LadyGeek wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 2:18 pm Thanks! I think I found it: Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless.
Apparently my memory is bad, and this post by HomeStretch is more what I remember:
I recently transferred my parents’ accounts (Taxable, Traditional & Roth IRAs) to and set up CMAs at Fidelity using attorney-prepared DPOAs. [ . . .]

[. . .]In the online account, the agent (me) cannot make online transfers between accounts, view account statements, link external bank accounts, etc. There is also a limit for the first 90(?) days as to how much Fidelity will allow me as agent to transfer out of the accounts.
(Sorry, I was heading out the door when I posted this morning, and didn't have time to look.)
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by cas »

bling wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 7:20 am a bit of a naive question...is the primary reason for setting up DPOA access for lawful purposes? what happens if you knew the username/password of your parents' account (because they told you) and you managed the finances on their behalf that way? and you also had a lawyer written DPOA while you were doing this?
I'd say setting up the DPOA/agent access is at least as much for practical logistical purposes as for lawful purposes. Leaving aside the legal issues...

The practical/logistical problem with the (honest and helpful) adult child taking the "I'll just log in to parents' accounts, and the computer won't know I'm not them" approach is that it works only as long as something doesn't arise that requires a phone call or a signed piece of paper. If you don't have some level of officially recognized authorized agent access on the account, that means the parent is going to have to be physically and mentally able to get through the phone security process or sign the paper. And if they can't do that, then you may encounter delays and problems with getting yourself recognized as an authorized agent using the lawyer prepared DPOA.

For example, when Congress waived the requirement to take RMD's in 2020, my parent's 401(k) plan required a phone call before they would suspend the automated RMD process for my parent for that year. Not possible to do it online. Parent was too deep into dementia to handle a phone call. Fortunately, parent had previously officially gone through the 401(k)s process to give me POA powers over the account, so the 401(k) plan was willing to talk to me on the phone with me able to go through their official phone security process.

Earlier in this thread, HomeStretch and LadyGeek have shared personal examples of the problems that can arise if a parent is unable to get through a phone call or signature process, especially a signature that needs to be notarized. (Although they have had problems even *with* having official agent access/DPOA in place.)

And as another example that has been on the boglehead's front page in recent days: Locked Out of Mom's I Bond Account

(Basic gist is that poster had been using parent's login/password to manage parent's I bonds. Poster got locked out of parent's Treasury Direct account, which requires a phone call to get account unlocked. Parent would need poster's help talking to TD support, and poster was worried about putting the parent through a 3 way call with a probable long hold time.

Then, in a later post, poster was trying to help parent fill out the TD paperwork granting the poster official POA access to the parent's TD account. Although parent was able to physically get to their bank for the necessary signature certification, the bank was unwilling to cooperate with TD's procedures and would not give the necessary certification of the signature. )
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

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LadyGeek wrote: Fri Sep 09, 2022 7:54 pm ...POA access makes things a bit more difficult when you try to do things online. So far, I don't see any way to add / view beneficiaries for my Mom's new accounts. I also don't see a way to add a bank online. (Fidelity has a form I can complete for that.) I'll wait until the funds transfer and the accounts go active before I start digging into the details.

The Fidelity rep stated that anything I can't do online can be accomplished with a phone call or visit to the local office.
cas wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 2:36 pm ...Apparently my memory is bad, and this post by HomeStretch is more what I remember:
I recently transferred my parents’ accounts (Taxable, Traditional & Roth IRAs) to and set up CMAs at Fidelity using attorney-prepared DPOAs. [ . . .]

[. . .]In the online account, the agent (me) cannot make online transfers between accounts, view account statements, link external bank accounts, etc. There is also a limit for the first 90(?) days as to how much Fidelity will allow me as agent to transfer out of the accounts.
(Sorry, I was heading out the door when I posted this morning, and didn't have time to look.)
My Mom's accounts are now at Fidelity. I completed the Fidelity asset transfer form on 9/12, they moved via ACATS on 9/13. My Mom's balance at Vanguard is now 0.00.

Yesterday, I get an email saying "Welcome to Fidelity, LadyGeek's Mom!" The email contained a bunch of links for setting up your new account. I had a thought - I signed the account applications as POA, so why can't I get direct online access? I created a new account with her credentials and got stuck because there was no security code (makes sense) and had to call them.

Less than 2 minutes after calling, I spoke with a rep. Sure, you can create the online account as POA. After answering several questions (including her account numbers), the rep gave me the security code... and I was in. :beer

The first thing I did was setup her beneficiaries. Next, I linked her bank account. I'll setup Quicken when I get a chance.

If anyone is in a similar situation and stuck with limited online access as POA, try asking Fidelity to setup an online account for this purpose. My own account has visibility to her assets as POA, but it's far, far easier to be the account owner.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by Fremdon Ferndock »

LadyGeek wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 1:37 pm
LadyGeek wrote: Fri Sep 09, 2022 7:54 pm ...POA access makes things a bit more difficult when you try to do things online. So far, I don't see any way to add / view beneficiaries for my Mom's new accounts. I also don't see a way to add a bank online. (Fidelity has a form I can complete for that.) I'll wait until the funds transfer and the accounts go active before I start digging into the details.

The Fidelity rep stated that anything I can't do online can be accomplished with a phone call or visit to the local office.
cas wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 2:36 pm ...Apparently my memory is bad, and this post by HomeStretch is more what I remember:
I recently transferred my parents’ accounts (Taxable, Traditional & Roth IRAs) to and set up CMAs at Fidelity using attorney-prepared DPOAs. [ . . .]

[. . .]In the online account, the agent (me) cannot make online transfers between accounts, view account statements, link external bank accounts, etc. There is also a limit for the first 90(?) days as to how much Fidelity will allow me as agent to transfer out of the accounts.
(Sorry, I was heading out the door when I posted this morning, and didn't have time to look.)
My Mom's accounts are now at Fidelity. I completed the Fidelity asset transfer form on 9/12, they moved via ACATS on 9/13. My Mom's balance at Vanguard is now 0.00.

Yesterday, I get an email saying "Welcome to Fidelity, LadyGeek's Mom!" The email contained a bunch of links for setting up your new account. I had a thought - I signed the account applications as POA, so why can't I get direct online access? I created a new account with her credentials and got stuck because there was no security code (makes sense) and had to call them.

Less than 2 minutes after calling, I spoke with a rep. Sure, you can create the online account as POA. After answering several questions (including her account numbers), the rep gave me the security code... and I was in. :beer

The first thing I did was setup her beneficiaries. Next, I linked her bank account. I'll setup Quicken when I get a chance.

If anyone is in a similar situation and stuck with limited online access as POA, try asking Fidelity to setup an online account for this purpose. My own account has visibility to her assets as POA, but it's far, far easier to be the account owner.
Thanks for this. Hadn't seen your post until now. I'm guessing you are a fan of Fidelity re: POA and related matters. Is this correct? I really want to settle my mind over all this and move my account from Vanguard if that isn't a frying pan to the fire kind of decision.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by LadyGeek »

It's not so much that I moved into Fidelity, but that I moved out of Vanguard. I went with Fidelity because myself and another family member already had investments there. (I have inquiry access into my family member's account.) I didn't look at Schwab for that reason, but I understand Schwab could have handled this POA just fine.

In 2021, I was denied creating a login for my Mom at Vanguard - even though I had full POA access (full agent authorization). Fortunately, Vanguard allowed me to link her account to a bank and modify beneficiaries under my login.

Fidelity wants you to complete a form or visit an office to do this. Fund transfers can be done, but are also inconvenient under POA access. Hence, my desire for online direct access.

Vanguard's new account maintenance fee for mutual fund only accounts under $1 million was the last straw. I was unable to upgrade my Mom's account to a brokerage online. After a long wait for phone support, the rep was unable to upgrade the account on his end. He mailed me a form - but it required a notary signature. Also, there was a very real possibility that upgrading the account to a brokerage required a new POA. That simply can not happen with my Mom. (She's not mentally competent to sign anything.)

All of this together means that I have little confidence in Vanguard handling transitions to inherited accounts in a timely manner when she passes. (Hopefully, that won't be for a long time...). So, goodbye Vanguard.

Fidelity is not perfect, but they have very good support and the website is well designed. I can do everything I need without getting frustrated.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by Fremdon Ferndock »

LadyGeek wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 6:02 pm It's not so much that I moved into Fidelity, but that I moved out of Vanguard. I went with Fidelity because myself and another family member already had investments there. (I have inquiry access into my family member's account.) I didn't look at Schwab for that reason, but I understand Schwab could have handled this POA just fine.

In 2021, I was denied creating a login for my Mom at Vanguard - even though I had full POA access (full agent authorization). Fortunately, Vanguard allowed me to link her account to a bank and modify beneficiaries under my login.

Fidelity wants you to complete a form or visit an office to do this. Fund transfers can be done, but are also inconvenient under POA access. Hence, my desire for online direct access.

Vanguard's new account maintenance fee for mutual fund only accounts under $1 million was the last straw. I was unable to upgrade my Mom's account to a brokerage online. After a long wait for phone support, the rep was unable to upgrade the account on his end. He mailed me a form - but it required a notary signature. Also, there was a very real possibility that upgrading the account to a brokerage required a new POA. That simply can not happen with my Mom. (She's not mentally competent to sign anything.)

All of this together means that I have little confidence in Vanguard handling transitions to inherited accounts in a timely manner when she passes. (Hopefully, that won't be for a long time...). So, goodbye Vanguard.

Fidelity is not perfect, but they have very good support and the website is well designed. I can do everything I need without getting frustrated.
Thanks LadyGeek - There's a Fidelity office about 30 miles from me, so I'll try to get there for a face-to-face. I was thinking about transferring a smaller amount to a new Roth IRA that I set up there to run through the process and see how well they can handle my DPOA needs. If everything works, I can move the rest from Vanguard to Fidelity. I hope I have a successful experience, as it will be a load off my mind to dis-entangle from Vanguard. Been with Vanguard forever and wish I didn't have to go to this bother, but unfortunately don't feel I have much choice at this point.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by HomeStretch »

Fremdon Ferndock wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 7:38 pm … There's a Fidelity office about 30 miles from me, so I'll try to get there for a face-to-face. I was thinking about transferring a smaller amount to a new Roth IRA that I set up there to run through the process and see how well they can handle my DPOA needs. If everything works, I can move the rest from Vanguard to Fidelity. I hope I have a successful experience, as it will be a load off my mind to dis-entangle from Vanguard. Been with Vanguard forever and wish I didn't have to go to this bother, but unfortunately don't feel I have much choice at this point.
What’s nice about Fidelity (as compared to Vanguard) is that you can do all of this fairly easily online without visiting the local office if you want. You can open the account, upload your DPOA with a notarized Fidelity form and, at a later date, initiate an account transfer from Vanguard all online. The 800# reps are 24/7 and are pretty helpful if you run into any issues.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

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Fremdon Ferndock wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 7:38 pm
Thanks LadyGeek - There's a Fidelity office about 30 miles from me, so I'll try to get there for a face-to-face. I was thinking about transferring a smaller amount to a new Roth IRA that I set up there to run through the process and see how well they can handle my DPOA needs. If everything works, I can move the rest from Vanguard to Fidelity. I hope I have a successful experience, as it will be a load off my mind to dis-entangle from Vanguard. Been with Vanguard forever and wish I didn't have to go to this bother, but unfortunately don't feel I have much choice at this point.
Do be aware that Fidelity does not allow an Agent's ID to transfer funds online. You have to call them, but they do take calls 24/7.

Schwab will allow an Agent's ID to transfer funds online to an already established routing point.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

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^^^ That's a very important point. As I noted previously, I'm at Fidelity to consolidate assets and keep this simple. Otherwise, I would have considered Schwab.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by Fremdon Ferndock »

LadyGeek wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 8:59 pm ^^^ That's a very important point. As I noted previously, I'm at Fidelity to consolidate assets and keep this simple. Otherwise, I would have considered Schwab.
My only gripe about Schwab is that I tried to set up a call from a rep online a while back, and had an arranged time to be called. Never heard from them. Not a good sign.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

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LadyGeek wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 1:37 pm

If anyone is in a similar situation and stuck with limited online access as POA, try asking Fidelity to setup an online account for this purpose. My own account has visibility to her assets as POA, but it's far, far easier to be the account owner.
Good to know!
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by LadyGeek »

Thanks!
Fremdon Ferndock wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 10:28 pm My only gripe about Schwab is that I tried to set up a call from a rep online a while back, and had an arranged time to be called. Never heard from them. Not a good sign.
I wouldn't base an important decision like this on a single missed phone call. If there was no follow-up to see why the call was never made (or they called and no one answered), you don't know what happened or why.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by LadyGeek »

I just received a letter from Fidelity stating that my authorization level is Durable Power of Attorney. That's an authorization level (what I'm allowed to do), not a legal description.

My actual paperwork is a Standby Power of Attorney with two physician's statements to make it active. In my situation, there is no going back so it is essentially permanent (durable).
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by LadyGeek »

I just found out that my bank-issued POA was not in effect for one of my Mom's CDs. :shock:

Each CD has a different account number. For some reason, the POA was not attached to that account. For everything else, yes.

I had no problems cashing-out ("breaking") a different CD. For this one CD, no.

In any case, the bank manager told me that they no longer issue POA forms. They now follow a process where you bring in your legal POA document. It's sent (faxed) to bank legal team for review and approval. Once that happens, I can be added as POA access.

No problem. I'll return with the documents and get it done.
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by Fremdon Ferndock »

Re: banking. For my mother we were able to create a joint checking account at her bank with her, myself, and my sister as account holders. We simply presented the DPOA at the branch bank and voila' it was done without any detailed review of the DPOA. Others, such as Lady Geek, indicate that the bank had to fax the DPOA somewhere for review. That never happened with us. I assume that with that authority we could have done CDs and anything else at that bank, yes?
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Re: Finding out your Power of Attorney is useless

Post by LadyGeek »

Yes. With that authority, you can do anything as the owner of the account. The first CD that was cashed-in previously was one in which I had changed the maturity term from 2-years down to 3 months (I was within the 10 day renewal window to make changes). No problem as POA.

In my situation, I honestly don't know why the POA wasn't attached to the second CD. It's not worth asking to find out.

I returned to the bank today. They had already completed their checklist and approved the POA. I didn't ask if they sent it to their legal team. Why? Experience has shown many times over that when you have a done deal, don't ask questions. An innocent question can cause them pause to rethink what they did.

All they said was that having the POA document presented in-person to them was all that was needed. They also confirmed (again) that they don't do bank-issued POAs any more. I politely explained what was needed and cashed-out the CD. Done.
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