|When I visit next month, if there are past due bills or anything he hasn't paid, I will then become a signer on his bank account and start paying all his bills online from San Fran.
Monarchgrrl, sorry you, too, are going through this.
I took over all my parent's financial business last March. My Dad had stopped paying all his bills in January. We feel he had probably begun having mini-strokes. The TV and phone were disconnected by the companies and the power was just a few days from being cut-off. Dad had never said a word about anything. I asked how things were going (we talked several times a week) and he always said fine. Once I realized what was happening (I couldn't get a hold of him by phone), I took over.
My Dad gave up driving just weeks ago, at my request. I was worried about his driving and we had a wonderful talk. If you have any concerns about this, please, pm me, and I can offer advice ad links to information about this important and life-saving decision.
I have a file cabinet filled with just paperwork for Mom & Dad. I am keeping really tight records so there are no questions as to where their money is going each month.
My attorney told me that, as POA, I can sign my parent's names on their checks without being on the account. So, say it is a check to pay the water bill, it would be made out to the company and I would sign it like this:"Dad's Name" by "My Name" as POA"
Ex: John Doe by Jane Smith as POA
ALL that info must be written on that tiny signature line!
You don't need to be on
the account as you are the POA and have the legal right to sign for them. Maybe it's different in another state (I'm in Washington state). I'd ask your attorney to be on the safe side.
being on their account, it makes things way easier when their time comes and they die. It keeps things separate, you know? It's their money, not your's (you are signing for their bills, not for your own use). If you have siblings, especially, that stand to inherit anything, it can get nasty because you are on the account and it then becomes your money (as a joint account owner) and can cause all kinds of legal hassles.
Keep your name off the accounts and explain things to the bank, they'll be helpful (talk to a bank official, not
Make sure you have plenty of copies of the POA to give to various businesses so that you can ahndle all of their financial and business issues. I had to give the POA documants (copies) to the following in order to gain access to account information: banks, insurance companies, garbage company, telephone company, water company, county utilities, cable TV company, lawn care company, power company, military/government (my Dad was retired Air Force) and a few others that slip my mind at the moment!
For Social Security, the POA is not an authorized documents for their needs. You must go to the SS office and apply to be their payee representative. You will then keep records as to what their SS money was used for each month. This record is submitted once a year to SS. This must be done in person and your grandparents will need to be sworn and sign their approval for this. Not sure how it works for people that cannot travel (it sounds like this would be difficult for your grandmother). Call your local SS office and ask them. They have been very nice each time I have had to speak with them.
Were the POA and will(s) notarized
?? It is important, especially if they are elderly (and, possibly on medications that could affect their decision-making capabilities?). It shows that they were/are of sound mind when they signed the documents and were not being forced. We also had witnesses sign an affidavit, which adds some weight to the documents, too.
On their wills (I assume these were drawn-up for both your grandparents?), were you listed as the executor of their estates? This is important. If your grandfather were to die, is your grandmother able to take care of what needs to be done?
Don't forget a Community Property Agreement. Are you also their POA for Health Care decisions? Another important document!!! Check with your attorney about what California requires to avoid probate and other lengthy legal hassles.
All of these things are so important. I am really glad that we did all this a year ago with my folks. It has made things so much easier. When Dad died (how strange it is to write that), I knew exactly who I needed to call (legal and important stuff, beyond the relatives and friends) and what to do. I knew about insurance policies and what monies were/are available for the survivor, my Mom. As they had a Community Property Agreement, everything simply rolls-over to Mom. No probate, no hassles.
Again, I am sorry you are dealing with this. If I can help with my "been there, done that" experience, please contact me.