Last Friday, my brother and I went to the Cape to bring my mother (and her howling cat) back to her house. While there we stopped off at her local Bank of America to do two things:
- Find out whether she had a credit card with them or not. I had found a letter from BoA dated January 2013 that indicated she had one, but she was not able to produce the card.
- Get my name added to her IRA so that I can manage her account if/when she is unable to do so.
While we were there, we discovered that she also had a checking account with them. Mom doesn’t remember ever opening that account (which given the circumstances, I had to take with a grain of salt), and it only had a dollar balance. I’m guessing that BoA created it automatically when she opened her IRA with them, perhaps as a way to divert any dividends into an account within their own bank rather than having her bank elsewhere.
We discovered that she did indeed have a credit card with them. We closed it and the checking account. But then it came time to add me as an account manager.
I produced the original copy of the Power of Attorney. The associate we were working with had to call three separate people to find out what to do, then had to fax the document to the legal department to review. Luckily they stayed on the phone the whole time that they reviewed the document, but UNLUCKILY we discovered that Bank of America would not accept the document as legal proof that I could manage her account because the “PoA” (as it’s referred to colloquially) does not specifically say “IRA” anywhere in it. It says I can manage her finances, banks accounts, contracts, safety deposit boxes…basically everything and the kitchen sink, EXCEPT explicitly stating IRA. So they shot us down.
Given that there was only a few thousand dollars in the account, I asked them how much the surrender fee would be. It turned out to only be $25, and the taxes were only a few hundred each. BoA cut us a check for the surrender amount, and we drove it over to TD Bank and deposited it in her checking account.
You may think that was a drastic measure, but let me tell you I have had nothing but bad experiences with Bank of America:
- BoA messed up my father’s retirement accounts so badly – he had prepared everything before he passed away so that we would not have to go through probate to receive our inheritance. One clerical error on BoA’s part resulted in my siblings and I paying thousands of dollars in legal fees after his passing.
- I myself had a mortgage with BoA that I closed when we refinanced last summer. Since then, I’ve discovered that due to a “bad data merge”, my BoA “profile” got merged with a different woman’s account who has the same last name as me but lives in Texas. My name, work email address, and social security number became tied in with her joint checking/savings account. It’s taken me since March 7th (when I discovered the problem) up to today to get it resolved—after three phone calls, spanning three weeks time.
Moral of the story? Don’t bank with Bank of America!!! They are too big, too impersonal, and their business practices are too sloppy.