Most people have heard of a power of attorney, right? It's a convenient tool to leave someone in charge when you can't do it yourself. It's also a very important estate planning tool to help in the case of incapacity and to make estate transfers easier. But did you know that the majority of elder abuse cases nowadays are done through a power of attorney?
We often see sad cases, where unsuspecting parents give their son or daughter a power of attorney, only to find later that their estate has been depleted without their permission and one child ends up with everything while the others get nothing. It's even worse when the power of attorney is used to pressure and coerce transfers by the parents against their will, while threatening to throw them out on the streets without anything to their name if they don't go along with it. Don't believe it can happen? It happens every day- just don't let it happen to you!
While powers of attorney are often necessary for estate planning and other matters, it is always best to limit the powers granted by such a document and of course, be careful who you grant it to! A limited power of attorney may meet your needs without giving permission to affect other affairs. Another option is to grant the power of attorney only on a temporary basis, to expire after a period of time or to only be effective in the case of incapacity, etc. A properly drafted power of attorney does not give a blanket mandate to someone to do anything they want to you, rather it should be narrowly tailored to meet your needs and no more. In all cases it is important to choose wisely who you are givign the reins to. Children who like to exercise control over others many times grow up to be a disaster waiting to happen if you ever give them a general power of attorney over your affairs. Evil step mothers?, yeah that can happen too!
So, be very careful who you put in charge and only give them enough to control to help you, but not enough to hurt you, or you may be sorry you did. If you know someone who's been taken advantage of through a power of attorney, or if you would like your documents reviewed, contact us for a free consultation.
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