My brother is serving a 25 year sentence. Prior to his trial he put our mom on his bank account. My mom is now very ill and not expected to survive. I have been using his debit card to send him canteen money each month but the card is about to expire. I will not be able to access his account. Is there anyway that he can grant me power of attorney so that I can send him money? Can he make changes to his bank account while incarcerated? I appreciate any advice.
Power of Attorney (POA) forms are very state specific, so make sure you pull up the language specifically for your state - the basics are in the appropriate statute, along with the form language required by the state.
He can execute the POA in prison. There are always Notary Publics in prisons to handle this sort of thing - he just needs to ask his counselor about it.
Once you have a fully executed POA, make copies. Never let anybody have the original - let them have a copy.
In addition to the POA, he can write a letter to his bank asking for a change that includes allowing you to act on his behalf.
You should also check with his bank to get any forms that he may need to execute for them. Post 9-11, some banks have become very particular about this sort of thing.
Anybody contemplating becoming the attorney in fact for somebody (the person who gets to do things on behalf of the person executing the POA) should know that they are accepting fiduciary responsibilities. This means that they are putting the needs of the other ahead of their own needs. They cannot use the funds of the inmate to pay their own bills and must pay appropriate bills of the inmate in a timely fashion. It should also be noted that in many states, the person acting on behalf of the inmate can be paid by the inmate to act. You should also know that if there's a dispute, the records will find their way to a judge who will decide if the person acting for the inmate has exercised the fiduciary duty appropriately.
The inmate should also understand that a POA can be withdrawn AT WILL. It may also have to be renewed each year.
Some states also offer Limited POAs (LPOA). A LPOA is appropriate for specific tasks. So, if the inmate wants his car sold, he can execute a LPOA to somebody willing to go through the pita of selling a car.
Further, some states have two forms of POA - one for property, and one for medical. Some states blend the two. A LPOA can be used in a blended state to segregate out the medical from the property as the caretaker of property may be different from the most appropriate person to exercise medical judgement for an inmate when he's not able to.
Oh, and I know that FL allows for a Living Will. A Living Will allows a person to tell people what he'd want in specific cases of medically related issues - pain medication, hydration, etc. Matter of fact, FL developed the Four Questions to address this stuff (Four Questions sounds a lot less final than Medical Power of Attorney and the like). I'd encourage you to have this discussion with your brother as well, depending on when you are both ready to deal with it should your mother pass.
Btw, anybody reading this - doing some basic estate planning - POAs, Medical Directives, a basic will - is a good thing. It doesn't mean you're looking to die, or that if you do it, you will die soon. It just gives both the person executing the documents and the people in his life the ability to pull out those documents when it becomes necessary. It is helpful for those you leave behind so that they know exactly what you want and are able to act accordingly. We are all going to die, hopefully many years from now. When that time comes, one of the most loving acts is having had those conversations and executing those documents so that there is no question.
Anyway, big digression there. Make sure you have your brother execute a state specific POA. Talk with the bank and get those papers to your brother as well. Have him write a letter instructing his bank to place you on his account.
Good luck with your mother. Having lost a parent, I know this is a really sucky time. Fortunately for me, my older brother was out of prison at the time. He's since gone back in, but it was very helpful to have both my brothers available to help with everything. I do hope your support system is strong enough to help you through this trying, miserable time. My heart to yours - Strength, love, and peace.
Thank you so much. I am his health care surrogate. Our mother has always been his primary advocate - our father has already died so I am the only person he has left- we are not young any more. I doubt that he will ever get out of prison so I have to stand by him as long for as long as I can. I cannot express how much I appreciate your kind words. This is really a hard time. Having a family member in prison can be such an isolating experience.