A new life begins at the Bank!

Having to finance an unexpected move just added to the emotional impact of separation from my loved wife of 61 years. Selecting, then being involved with a care home, a financial advisor, a bank, a caring family, and Centrelink, all at the same time, was overwhelming.

Having an up-to-date Power of Attorney, and knowing where it is becomes critical especially when you are unexpectedly required to change banking accounts and one partner is unable to sign.

Like many couples, we always had joint bank accounts from when we married, with either party to sign for any transaction, and that was the first thing that had to be changed…..

We had organised and updated our Wills and Powers of Attorney nine years ago when we sold our house and moved to a nearby retirement village. Great, job done? No!

Yes, I thought that would cover any eventuality….. and it nearly was. But when my wife suddenly required to be placed in permanent care, a whole new unexpected dilemma confronted me.

The financial aspects needed me set up our finances separately so I could more easily manage the future transactions. That meant I needed to open a new, separate, account for my wife. Secondly, I needed to change the signing authorities for it, and amend our existing joint account to just me.

Then, of course, I needed to consolidate our finances and pay the Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD) to the care home. Of course, there wasn’t enough to pay the full amount required, so I was saddled with a shortfall that will continue to accrue a monthly interest bill until the accommodation is terminated.

The RAD we paid was made up from Dorothy’s half-share of our modest self-managed Super Fund, plus every cent of our life savings in Term Deposits, all of which had to be withdrawn before maturity (with a loss of some interest!).

Organising that banking was a nightmare! It was severely hampered by me having to find our original Powers of AttorneyShould have been easy, I certainly had a ‘copy’ but that was not acceptable to the bank (or anyone else!), only the original signed documentswill be accepted when it comes to re-arranging bank accounts!

So, I tried to phone the solicitor who had retained the originals for safe-keeping five years ago. The phone number was no longer active, his home/office was unoccupied and there was no record of his whereabouts – he was now nowhere to be found! It took three calls to the Law Institute to find that he had retired, and to discover his private phone number, because only he was authorised to divulge the name of the firm who had bought his law practice! I firmly believe it should be incumbent, indeed mandatory, for such a change to have been notified to all clients whose original documents were held and then transferred. Eventually I tracked him down and he told me the name of the new custodians who then kindly released and delivered the original Wills and, critically, the Power of Attorney documents. Hooray! Now, off to the Bank…….

Our bank, BankFirst, were then finally able to set up the accounts. They were very helpful and also provided me with a ‘certified’ copy of the Power of Attorney for any future use. Thanks, BankFirst, for your excellent, personal and sympathetic help. I am so glad we did not bank with the ‘Big boys’!

So, there’s a lesson: make sure you have access to the original and appropriate Power of Attorney, or at least have a certified copy that is acceptable to the bank (and others who may need it!).

 I’ll continue this narrative later……….