You probably don't ask the account representative whether the bank would someday honor a duly executed power of attorney and allow your named agent to act for you, or whether, after your death, the bank would accept probate alternatives that don't require appointment of an executor or administrator in order to transfer the account to your intended beneficiaries. You don't ask how many hoops the bank might make your loved ones jump through in trying to help you out or distribute your property someday down the road. These just aren't the issues that are top of mind when we open a bank account. But when it comes to these matters, all banks are most definitely not created equal.
There are exceptions, but in general, smaller, locally owned banks tend to be easier to deal with on such matters than large, national banks. Texas-based banks are more likely to be familiar with Texas law and our probate alternatives which, in some circumstances, can be cheaper and faster means for families to settle their loved ones' estates. Texas-based banks, in my experience, are also more likely to honor a properly drafted power of attorney that is in the statutory form.
I'm not going to call out the offender, but just in the last week I've heard, from a client and from colleagues, of instances of the same large national bank refusing to honor POAs for arbitrary reasons. One, because the notary's stamp, which was in effect when the POA was signed, had since expired. Another, because the named agent was not himself an account-holder on the account in question. Neither of these reasons has anything to do with the validity of the POA, but the bank used them as reasons not to honor the POAs anyway.
Powers of attorney, in general, provide a cheaper, easier means of anticipating future incapacity than do revocable "living" trusts. One risk to relying on them, though, is the risk that the bank will refuse to honor them. One solution could be to use a trust instead, and for some individuals that is the best option.
But why not take your business from the banks that take us for granted, and give your business to banks and credit unions that value it? Taking the step of contacting your financial institutions to ensure they will honor your wishes can be another way you plan ahead now to help make a difficult time for your family less so.