BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio — Gary Koncelik of Broadview Heights said he's learning the hard way about the importance of having all family estate documents at close hand when it comes to the care of an elderly or ailing loved one.
Koncelik told News 5 he's been caring for his 91-year-old mother for many years, and has had power of attorney over her financial accounts since 2014. Gary and his mother have been living in the same apartment building, so he could give her plenty of care.
But last month, his mother's doctor told Koncelik his mother now needs assistance 24/7 and recommended she be placed in a nursing home. Koncelik said he found a great facility, but needed to act quickly because available rooms were limited. However, Koncelik could not find his copy of the power of attorney, or POA, required to get his mother signed into the facility, so he contacted Chase Bank to get another copy, since many of her financial accounts are with Chase Bank.
Koncelik said after multiple phone calls and visits to two local branch offices Chase assured him a copy of the POA was in the mail. But Koncelik said two weeks later the POA still had not arrived, and he's concerned if it's not sent in a few days he could lose the only bed available at the nursing home of his choice.
Koncelik admits part of the dilemma is his fault because the power of attorney was lost and he didn't keep track of the important document, but said Chase didn't deliver and couldn't give him an update on when the POA copy would arrive.
“I’ve reached out to two different branches of Chase Bank, I’ve called corporate, I went to different regional managers," Koncelik said. “Chase said they had the power of attorney, they would mail it out that Monday afternoon, and he assured me of that, and I said I’ll be expecting it, he said 'expect it on a couple of days.' And here we are two weeks later and I still do not have that power of attorney.”
“If I don’t have the power of attorney, I can’t move forward, then I’m looking at another month, then the beds might not be available, so I’m fighting time limits. Two different managers at two different branches offices really didn’t want to help me at all.”
Chase Bank quickly responded to our story and told News 5, "Chase is working very hard to assist this customer with documentation he submitted to the bank nearly a decade ago.” News 5 will follow-up on this developing story.
Estate Attorney Lisa Roth, Partner with Cleveland's Ziegler Metzger Attorneys and Counselors told News 5 it's crucial families set up a living will, durable power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney so they're prepared to take over financial responsibilities and more for an elderly or ailing loved one.
“I know it’s not an easy conversation to have, but I can’t stress enough how important a conversation it is to have," Roth said. “Things can happen in an instant, things can happen before you think they might.”
"These documents are needed for accessing accounts, paying bills, doing their banking, taking care of day-to-day financial matters. And on the other side when it comes to making healthcare decisions, or even accessing healthcare information, or being even able to talk to healthcare providers for a loved one. If you don’t have those documents in place — like a living will or healthcare power of attorney, you’re not going to get anywhere.”
Meanwhile, Koncelik has this advice for Northeast Ohio families to keep important documents close at hand:
“It’s a tough situation, that’s why have everything ready, have your documents in order," Koncelik said. "Have your power of attorney ready, know exactly what you need to have done.”