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Are you afraid of power of attorney abuse?

As you considered your estate plan, you may have already had an idea of details you wanted to include in your will. After all, you may have believed that your will would act as the most important part of your plan. However, your estate plan can address many different aspects of your life, including events that could take place while you are still alive.

In particular, you can use your plan to address how you want your care handled if you suffer from an incapacitating event, and you can also use a power of attorney document to appoint someone to act on your behalf when it comes to your finances. Of course, this agent would have a considerable amount of power over your affairs, and you may worry about possible abuses.

Potential for abuse

Unfortunately, not everyone chooses to act in the most upstanding manner when holding a position of power. Individuals who act as power of attorney agents typically have various amounts of control over the funds of a vulnerable person. As a result, an unscrupulous agent could choose to carry out unseemly actions for personal gain.

You certainly do not want to end up in such a situation yourself, but you may wonder what you could do about abuse, especially if it takes place when you are no longer competent. Fortunately, by planning ahead, you can take the time to thoroughly review your agent choices before making a decision.

Limiting abuse

Some actions that you could take to limit the possibility of your agent abusing his or her power include the following:

  • Choosing a trustworthy and responsible party
  • Choosing a financially literate individual
  • Considering specific terms of your document that may limit your agent's power
  • Requiring that your agent check in with a third party, like a sibling or financial professional
  • Including "springing power," or giving the agent the ability to act only after specific events have transpired

This list does not represent every action you could take to protect yourself and limit possible POA abuse. If you have additional concerns about creating a power of attorney document, you are not alone. Many individuals feel hesitant to give someone power over their affairs, but speaking with an attorney may help you better understand the benefits of this document and how you can make the terms suit your particular desires.

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Schlueter Ecklund & Davitt
4023 Charles Street
Rockford, IL 61108

Toll Free: 800-207-5133
Phone: 815-516-8264
Fax: 815-229-0733
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