February 13, 2018

What is the best bank with whom you can choose to do business? Especially if you are elderly or disabled?

The answer depends on who you talk to, and the basis for their evaluation.

Money Magazine, for example, gave the award to TD Bank, and Honorable Mention to Bank of America. The magazine rated banks on a checklist of criteria which included whether the bank offered account alerts, monitoring software, the ability to create alerts for a trusted family member or friend about suspected exploitation, and read-only access for financial caregivers, to allow a second pair of eyes to monitor an account, and whether the bank provided training for staff. The focus was particularly on preventing financial elder abuse.

But these results are based on check the box criteria, not on the actual experience of clients, nor on the experience of probate, elder law, and special needs law attorneys.

So in contrast, how about this public press release from the Union County Surrogate in New Jersey, released just this last October, 2017? From the press release:

The Surrogate’s Office is established under Constitution of the State of New Jersey. The Surrogate is responsible for assisting residents in the orderly process of estates after the death of a Union County resident, and is obligated is to alert residents of potential problems with the processing of estates.

Chase Bank has displayed in the recent past a refusal to follow New Jersey Law and instead follow their own bank instituted policy which adds expense and delay to the orderly processing of the decedents estates.  Bank of America and Wells Fargo have acted in a similar manner on many occasions.

I am therefore advising Union County Residents that commencing or continuing a banker-customer relationship with Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo Banks may cause several unforeseen impediments with the timely processing of your estate after your death or the death of a loved one.

So, what Money Magazine rates as one of the best banks for the elderly based on a checklist – Bank of America – is rated one of the worst based on in-the-trenches experience by the Union County Surrogate’s office when it comes to probates.

But for us at Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts, the real heartache and aggravation is rarely in elder abuse or death probate. Rather, it is when our elderly or disabled clients need the assistance of their Agent under their Durable Power of Attorney, or their guardian, or their conservator. It is then that too many financial institutions show both their ignorance and their arrogance. We’ll blog more on this in the future.