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Bank pays $64,000 for not honoring a power of attorney

Clarence Smith Sr., a Florida resident, decided he no longer wanted to have to manage his finances. He signed a power of attorney document authorizing his son to handle his affairs. Clarence owned a bank account jointly with a female friend from his retirement community. His son became suspicious about some withdrawals from the account and contacted the bank. He asked the bank to transfer $64,000 from the joint account into an account owned solely by Clarence.

Before doing so, the bank contacted the joint owner. She objected to the transfer. She also told the bank that Clarence’s son was trying to steal his money. The bank then refused to transfer the funds.

Shortly afterward, the “friend” withdrew all the money in the joint account, leaving Clarence with nothing. Clarence died a few weeks later. His son sued the bank on behalf of Clarence’s estate. A jury sided with the estate, finding that the bank acted wrongly in refusing to honor the son’s power of attorney, and awarding the estate $64,000 in damages.

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