For seniors, a “convenience account” would be the perfect alternative to a joint checking account.
I learned about “convenience accounts” in a 2011 New York Times article. With these accounts, another person, such as an adult child, has authority to access the account and to make deposit and withdrawals on behalf of the account owner. These accounts do not require a power of attorney documents to set up, and there are no rights of survivorship. The helper is legally obliged to act as the account owner’s agent, serving his or her best interests. Helpers can’t use the money for their own benefit.
Such an account would be wonderful tool for elders who want assistance from an adult children or another individual. They eliminate the risks of joint accounts for both the elder and the helper. (See my blog post, “The Risks of Joint Bank Accounts.”)
The New York Times article said convenience accounts, also known as “multiple party” accounts, are little-known. “Banks don’t necessarily promote these accounts,” it said.
The author wasn’t kidding.
I looked for convenience accounts in Vermont. I began my search with two large multi-state banks and one local bank. I have not contacted web-based banks as my senior clients prefer bricks and mortar.
The article didn’t mention convenience accounts are offered in only about half the states. Vermont is not one of them. I asked the bank branch managers to look into alternatives. The two larger banks offer nothing. The local bank, however, has a “Joint Fiduciary Account” which allows other signers on the account in addition to the owner. When the owner dies, any money in the account goes to his or her estate.
The concept of the convenience account is a great idea. If you are interested in this for your parents, ask the banks in your area. Be persistent. You may find one or at least a good alternative. And if you do, please let me know.
This blog is published to provide you with general information only, and is not intended to provide specific or comprehensive advice. Money Care, LLC encourages individuals to seek advice from competent professionals when appropriate.