Can a Power of Attorney Make Themselves a Joint Owner of a Bank Account?

by Charlie Gaston ; Updated July 27, 2017

Generally, a power of attorney can open a joint checking account with another individual or individuals. However, official bank policy determines what restrictions, fees and conditions apply. It is best to open a joint account with all parties present, but if you are unable to visit the bank, have your power of attorney bring the durable power of attorney to the bank and complete the application on her own.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a legal document that grants an agent, attorney-in-fact or power of attorney authority to make financial and personal decisions on your behalf. An agent can be any individual who is trustworthy and experienced in financial matters, such as an attorney, accountant, estate planner, business partner or relative with financial experience.

Tenant with Rights of Survivorship

The most common type of joint checking account is a joint tenant with rights of survivorship. Ideal for marital couples, a joint tenant with rights of survivorship can be opened with a power of attorney. The power of attorney is entitled to act as an authorized signer on the account. The benefit of the account is that all assets pass to the surviving party if one spouse passes away.

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Tenancy in Common Account

You can also opt to open a tenancy in common account. This type of account is better suited to an individual seeking to open a checking account with a power of attorney and no one else. When you pass away, your account assets pass to the beneficiary you designate in your will. Before opening this or any other joint checking account, inquire about account terms and banking fees, which vary widely from bank to bank.

Procedures

To open a joint bank account, you or your power of attorney must bring a notarized photocopy of the original power of attorney documents, which include the name of your durable power of attorney, as well as statements authorizing the power of attorney to request information about your accounts. The durable power of attorney must have a signature, signing date and the stamp of a notary public.

About the Author

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.

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