My father fell ill three months ago and was hospitalised. As his condition was serious, he decided to close his bank accounts and use the money to pay his hospital bills.
I helped to prepare letters addressed to various banks informing them of his intention, and asking for cheques to be issued to either me or my mother. We also had a doctor's letter confirming that my father was lucid at the time he signed the letters.
I visited the banks on Dec 22 last year with the letters. I did not have any problems except with his POSB account.
The bank officer said the letter "was of no use" and that the branch had to send its own officers to verify that my father intended to close his account, and they could visit only at certain times.
The next day, my father's condition deteriorated rapidly, leaving him unable to communicate.
On Dec 28, my sister-in-law and I went to see the bank's branch manager, who told us the best the bank could do was to issue a cashier's order in favour of the hospital, upon seeing the original copy of my father's bill.
We rushed to the hospital to obtain the bill and returned to the bank, but the branch manager made two further requests: One was for a doctor to certify that my father was in the intensive care unit (the doctor faxed over a letter within 15 minutes), and the other was for a copy of my birth certificate (I did not have it with me but I promised to submit it on the next working day).
Only after this was the cashier's order issued.
POSB's terms and conditions for savings accounts merely state that a written notice, signed by the account holder, is all that is needed to close an account. So why was there so much hassle in our case?
I understand that the bank needs to protect itself in case of a dispute over whether my father had indeed signed the letter. We were prepared to sign any indemnity the bank required of us, and made that clear from the outset.
I hope the bank will re-examine its policies in this regard.
Ruth Wong (Ms)
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