The Worst Bank in America

Posted By Jay Kaufman || 15-May-2012

For Clients, Community and Advisors. Every day, we assist our clients in transferring assets to their trusts to ensure that the goals and objectives of their estate plans are accomplished. Once the assets are transferred, we endeavor to verify that the assets are correctly titled. I would venture to say that every year, we deal with hundreds of financial institutions. Some are easier to work with than others. When we collaborate with financial planners, CPAs and investment advisors, the task is almost always easier. However, recent changes in the banking laws have made working with many banks a little more difficult. For the most part, all these institutions realize that they exist because of their customers.

There is one exception that looms large. In professional meetings across the country, I have heard one nightmare after another recited by attorneys and paralegals about dealing with this national institution – particularly after the death of a client. While our office has had some frustrations before, they are nothing like what I personally have experienced recently.

My parents live in Tucson, AZ. They have both been sick recently. I have been handling their finances. Late last year, I took their standard power of attorney to their bank at a time when both of them were hospitalized. The bank refused to honor the power of attorney. The reason? They dreamed up an oddball technicality – a provision that ALL attorneys normally use in well drafted powers of attorney. I was fit to be tied!

Then, late this week, Mom needed money in her checking account. They have a money market account at the same bank. Both accounts are in the name of “Mom and Dad”. No problem, right? I drove over to the local branch with a $15,000 check. The teller called over the manager who proceeded to give me the third degree as though I was a thief! Then, she told me that she could not accept the check, she could not tell me why, and insisted that my 83 year old mother call her so she could let her know! Then, right in front of me, she tore up the check and the deposit ticket. I was livid! I called my parents. My sister was with them. She took them over to the branch in Tucson. Within an hour all of their money was removed from the bank and taken to their competitor.

Who is the bank? Bank of America has a really bad reputation among estate planning attorneys and financial planners across the nation. They are obstructive and they are difficult. In an era where the customer experience is paramount, Bank of America does not understand anything but hard and fast rules. Eventually, the marketplace will catch up them and either they will come to understand or they will continually lose market share. In the interim, we will be recommending other financial institutions who are customer oriented.

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