A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives another person the authority to make decisions on your behalf. Several types of POAs exist, including a durable POA, which remains in effect even if you become incapacitated, and a springing POA, which only becomes effective under certain circumstances.
While a POA serves as a valuable tool in certain situations, it is vital to remain aware of the potential for abuse and take steps to ensure that your POA follows your best interests.
Potential abuses of a POA
Some potential abuses of a POA include:
- Misusing funds for another’s benefit.
- Making inappropriate decisions that go against your best interests.
- Coercing the person granting the POA.
What to do if you suspect abuse of a POA
You have options if you suspect your attorney-in-fact is abusing their authority through your POA. You can revoke the POA and appoint a new attorney-in-fact. You can also report the abuse to the appropriate authorities, such as the police or adult protective services.
If you become incapacitated and unable to revoke the POA, you may need to seek guardianship or conservatorship to protect your interests.
Choosing a good POA
To protect against potential abuses of a POA, it is crucial to consider who you choose carefully. Choose someone you trust completely, such as a spouse, adult child or close friend. Have a backup selection in mind in case your primary choice is unable or unwilling to serve.
The person you select should act as a responsible and reliable decision-maker who will work toward your best interests. This person should have the capacity to understand and manage your financial affairs.
It is essential to review your POA periodically to ensure that it aligns with your wishes and that your representative acts in your best interests.