“The best defense is a good offense.”  This saying translates to many sports, and most of us have heard that statement at one time or another. When thinking of ways to assist our seasoned citizens, we can apply the same maxim – the best defense is a good offense. Let me use Aunt Gertrude and her niece, Milly, to explain.

When Aunt Gertrude chose her niece Milly as her Attorney In Fact, often referred to as “her Power of Attorney,” she gave a great deal of power and authority to Milly. Milly could write checks for Aunt Gertrude, she could withdraw money from investment accounts and change beneficiaries on Aunt Gertrude’s annuities. She can sign contracts (like for HBO or Direct TV at Milly’s house) and have bills routed to Aunt Gertrude’s account.

So how does Aunt Gertrude “defend” herself against mismanagement and theft? Aunt Gertrude’s Power of Attorney document should include a clause that creates an automatic oversight for all of Milly’s actions. This automatic oversight can catch any wrongdoing before too much damage has been done to Aunt Gertrude. This can be a monthly, quarterly, or (my advice is no less-than) yearly review.

The automatic oversight is accomplished by Aunt Gertrude, at the time she signs her new power of attorney document, appointing both an attorney in fact, here Milly, and an overseer – often a professional or some other family member. When Milly knows that someone will be reviewing her actions, she will be far less likely to put her hand in the cookie jar.

Please contact Mateya Law Firm to help you with your estate planning needs, including the Power of Attorney document.