Is my bank liable for giving away my money to another person?

Q. My sister had power of attorney for my mother during my mother’s lifetime which caused to have her name (my sister’s) placed on my mother’s savings accounts. Does the bank have any liability for allowing my sister to do this? The bank gave away all my money to another person Is my bank liable for giving away my money to another person?

A. If the bank permitted your sister to add herself to your mother’s accounts through the use of a durable power of attorney, the bank may have liability for permitting that to occur.

The reason that a bank could be liable has to do with the conflict of interest that your sister would have by attempting to use her power of attorney in that fashion. The more likely scenario in your case would be your mother accompanying your sister to the bank and instructing the bank to either place your sister’s name on the account and/or payable on death to one or more accounts. In such a scenario if your mother is known to bank personnel and appears to be acting of her own free will and under no duress the bank is obligated to follow her instructions concerning her own accounts.

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The only exception would be where your mother is obviously not acting in a coherent or normal fashion and no reasonable bank employee would believe that she was not in some way either impaired or having undue influence exerted upon her. You would be well advised to contact competent counsel concerning additional information in your case.

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By: Robert J. DiCello