So, what are the reasons to appoint someone to use a power of attorney?
A) Convenience. If you will be traveling for the summer, undergoing a medical procedure, or simply would like to have someone (like your adult child) to continue paying your bills while you're gone, then you could appoint them to be your power of attorney.
B) Early stages of Dementia. If you or a loved one is beginning to suffer from memory loss, you could give someone you trust a durable power of attorney to handle your regular financial affairs, which will remain effective if and when you become completely incapacitated.
C) Unable to leave home. If you are unable to drive, bedridden, or whatever the case may be, you can authorize someone to be your attorney-in-fact (aka agent) to do things like go to your bank, visit the local social security administration office, or pay your real property taxes at the local tax collector's office.
But what are the ways to protect myself from abuse of authority?
A) Appoint a trustworthy person. There is no foolproof game plan that you can create that will prevent a person you appoint as your agent from abusing the power you have authorized them to exercise, but you can minimize the risk by appointing someone you can trust, someone you have known for quite some time, or someone you know is responsible in their own personal affairs.
B) Appoint multiple persons. Appointing multiple persons to act as your attorney-in-fact will allow them to regulate each other's behavior.
C) Setup checks and balances. There different things you can do to create checks and balances. For example, if you have given your nephew the authority to pay your bills by using the funds from your checking account, you can have the bank statements sent to your niece, so that she can review the activity in your bank account.
What can I do if someone is mismanaging my money with the power of attorney?
A) Revocation. You can always revoke the power of attorney at any time.
B) Contact Dept. of Children and Families. DCF in conjunction with other agencies protect disabled adults or elderly persons from abuse, exploitation or neglect, which includes abuse by someone appointed as your agent.
C) Contact your local police. Call your local police and file a police report.
D) Contact an attorney. Call your attorney to see what civil remedies are available to you.
This is a brief summary on some of the things surrounding power of attorney documents. A power of attorney can be extremely valuable resource that for many people become part of their daily lives. Please, remember that this information is simply meant for informational use only and not intended to be legal advice. If you or someone you know could use a power of attorney, please contact this office for a consultation. Thank you!