Will Your Power of Attorney for
Your Mom Work with the VA?
Dear Mr. Miller: My
Mom signed a Power of Attorney for Financial Matters appointing me
to handle her affairs. But I have been told that the VA will not
work with me and that I cannot sign the VA Aid & Attendance
Application for her. How can that be, the Power of Attorney is
signed, notarized, and sealed!
-Daughter with a
Simply put, the VA makes its own rules when it comes to VA benefits.
And one of those rules is that it does not recognize state powers of
attorney. If you sign the VA application for your mom, it is highly
likely that the VA will send a letter to your Mom requesting her
signature. This will do nothing but slow the process down. So, if at
all possible, your Mom should sign the application. Interestingly,
the VA does not care if your Mom is mentally capable of
understanding the application or even what she is doing; they just
want her signature.
If the VA is of the opinion that your Mom cannot handle her own
financial affairs (usually determined by the physician letter that
typically accompanies the application), at the time they send their
determination letter (called an “award”) they will also send a
letter indicating that they are planning on appointing a “Federal
Fiduciary.” Unless there is a competent spouse, this process is
usually unavoidable if the physician letter indicates a lack of
mental capacity and will add 3 to 6 months to the process. If your
Mom receives this letter, there is a form you may file (after the
award letter is received) with the VA requesting that you be
appointed in that capacity. Attaching a copy of your State Power of
Attorney to the form is helpful so the VA knows that your Mom
apparently trusted you to take care of her money.
Eventually, the VA will have an investigator make an appointment
with you at your Mom’s place of residence. Often the VA will run a
credit report on you. They may also request your financial
information. The purpose of all of this is to determine that you are
an appropriate person to handle your Mom’s money and can be trusted
not to steal it or use it for your own benefit. Further, the VA may
require that you post a bond and annually account for the money by a
Once you are approved, another 4-6 weeks minimum may pass before you
receive a letter from the VA officially appointing you as the
Federal Fiduciary to handle your Mom’s monthly VA pension money. You
will be required to open a separate bank account (in a special
specified title) to hold this money and will not be entitled to
invest it except for interest on the bank account.
Although this entire process may take 6 months at a minimum, the
first check that you finally receive will be for all of the accrued
monthly payments since the first day of the month following the date
the original application was filed. Subsequent payments are
generally made by direct deposit to the bank account.