The power of attorney document that dear Aunt Gertrude signed, appointing her niece Milly as her Attorney-In-Fact (often referred to as her ‘power of attorney’), was drafted to help protect Aunt Gertrude. She was getting older and needed help with day-to-day tasks. She also needed help with doing the ‘chores’ of life – paying her bills, sorting through the mail, etc.
The power of attorney document is the perfect way to protect Aunt Gertrude. Sort of. Let’s say it can be the perfect document to help Aunt Gertrude. In order for Aunt Gertrude to be protected as she wishes, Milly must follow the rules. All of the actions that Milly takes must be in her Aunt’s best interest and for her Aunt’s benefit.
But what if it isn’t? What if Milly starts taking money from Aunt Gertrude’s checking or savings account? Who would know? What if Milly starts telling Aunt Gertrude that the reason no one visits her is that no one likes her anymore “Only me, your dear niece Milly.” Would it be a surprise, then, if Aunt Gertrude changed her will, just before she died, to leave everything to her ‘dear niece Milly?’ Of course not.
Aunt Gertrude, like every other person who signed a power of attorney document in Pennsylvania, must trust her attorney in fact to do the right thing. There is, however, one more step that Aunt Gertrude can take. She can have an automatic oversight built in to her power of attorney document. The document can create a third party who ‘checks up’ on Milly’s actions.
Please let us, at Mateya Law Firm, know how we can help you – whether you are the Aunt Gertrude in this story, or you are the one who is concerned about what the “Milly” in your family is doing.