Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
Hello Judge Law,
I am the POA and Executor of my 98 year old Uncle who lives in Florida. Over the last couple of years, he removed a family member and added a neighbor/friend to one or two of his CDs and set up the CD as POD. I'm not sure why my uncle made these changes and/or if any inappropriate influence was exerted by the neighbor. Since I live in New Jersey and it will take a bit to sort out my Uncle's recent changes, would like to prevent the neighbor from cashing in the CDs until I can retain an attorney to handle the probate etc.
My Uncle is still alive but is failing rapidly. After he made these changes, I did ask why he was undoing many decades of estate planning to now leave a substantial portion of his estate to this neighbor. He responded that it was none of my business. I don't suspect elder abuse. But I do think the neighbor has taken advantage of my uncle emotionally. I would tell you that up until three years ago, my uncle never would have considered leaving his estate to anyone outside his family. I simply want to delay the neighbor from being able to cash in the CD until I can ascertain whether inapprorpriate influence was exerted by this neighbor. And if so, pursue a larger legal action.
Would there be any value in going to the banks where the CDs are held and ask them to freeze the CDs until we can obtain a judgement from a probate judge?
Hello Judge Law.
Just one last question. With a POA in hand, will my uncle's banks be willing to confirm the names of the account holders on a CD or checking/savings account? My uncle uses ten banks for his various cds, and we would at least like to be able to find out where his assets are located and whose names are on the CDs.
Thank you for following up with me.
As a technical matter, yes, if the POA specifies access to bank accounts then you should have proper authority to obtain information and you can make the request.
However, I will tell you that, in my experience, banks can be "resistant" about it. Often, they will insist on their own POA form being executed before the information will be released. That would, obviously, require your uncle's cooperation.
They usually have a couple of reasons. First, the account agreement would specify that the bank's forms are required for any POA or other authority. Second, the bank would want to be released and indemnified for any privacy claims from the principal (your uncle, in this case).
I hope this answers the question.
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