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Big Changes Made to Bolster Power of Attorney Laws in Connecticut

Wills-trust-estates-bank-beneficiary-trust-trusteesConnecticut now joins 20 other states in giving family members power to combat banks that reject power of attorney forms. The new law also addresses issues of POA abuse.

For the first time in decades, changes have been made to the Connecticut power of attorney law. These changes, which went into effect on October 1, were detailed in The Connecticut Law Tribune’s “Changes Go into Effect for State Power-of-Attorney Laws.”

The Connecticut probate court administrator notes that it’s common for banks to frustrate the purpose of estate planning by rejecting power-of-attorney forms (POAs) when a senior or a disabled individual doesn’t have the competency to execute a form that would meet the bank's standards.

The reason for a durable power of attorney is to plan ahead, but if a bank won't accept the power of attorney, the purpose of the document goes awry. The new law makes certain this won’t happen due to the whim of a bank teller.

With the law change in Connecticut, family members can now go to probate court to enforce POAs and be awarded attorney fees and costs if a bank isn’t following the law. These judges have been granted new authority to compel financial institutions to accept POAs. In contrast, bank employees can also petition the court to review the actions of a person who has a POA if they are concerned that the person who granted the POA is being exploited.

Connecticut now joins 20 other states that have enacted a model law, so it should be easier for elderly people who relocate to be closer to their caregivers and family in other states to have their POAs recognized.

The changes to the POA law also address the issue of abuse, which is a concern nationwide. The category of people who have the right to raise concerns about POA abuses has now been expanded. A caregiver or a person who “demonstrates sufficient interest in the principal’s welfare” now has legal standing to petition the court to review the actions of a POA agent. If the court finds that abuse took place, the POA agent can be ordered to reimburse the financial losses.

It should be noted that the new law does not address whether or not agents should be granted control in a POA over a person’s email, social media accounts or other digital assets. This still needs to be added to POA forms.

Reference: The Connecticut Law Tribune (October 7, 2016) “Changes Go into Effect for State Power-of-Attorney Laws”