Certain precautions could help you avoid power of attorney abuse

Creating a comprehensive estate plan means assessing various aspects of your life and reviewing your options for how to address those aspects in the future. Some people may feel satisfied creating a plan that consists only of a simple will, but you could believe that using other important documents could better suit your particular needs.

Because you understand that you could one day become incapacitated, you want to appoint someone to have power over your financial affairs in the event that you cannot make necessary decisions for yourself. Fortunately, you can utilize a power of attorney document to do just that. However, before simply naming an agent and leaving it at that, you may want to take precautions in hopes of preventing an abuse of power.

Duties and abuse

A power of attorney agent could have a great deal of power when your document goes into effect, especially if you do not include details to limit that power. This person could access your bank accounts and other financial accounts in order to pay your utilities, medical expenses, other bills and handle other financial affairs. These tasks come with a great deal of responsibility, and your agent should feel ready to take on such a role.

Of course, even if a person expresses a willingness to act as your agent, you may want to consider your candidates closely. In some cases, a person may try to misuse his or her power for personal gain, which could leave you in a difficult spot financially while already dealing with incapacitating issues. Therefore, when considering your agent, you may do well to choose someone responsible, trustworthy, loyal and respectful.

Limiting power

In further attempts to prevent abuse, you can add conditions to your power of attorney document that limit the actions your agent can take. You could also indicate that your agent must check in with a third party and provide documentation of financial transactions. This additional review could help prevent a misuse of funds.

You could also add a stipulation that your agent cannot step into the role unless at least two doctors have validated your incapacitation. However, in the event that your condition declines rapidly and an agent needs to act quickly, this requirement could take up much-needed time.

If you have questions or concerns regarding the details to include in a power of attorney document and how to choose the best agent, you may wish to consult with a legal professional.