There are many reasons that a person may need to have a Power of Attorney document drafted. Aunt Gertrude may need someone to help her because she does not get around as well as she used to. Or she may be physically fit, but not as mentally sharp as she used to be. Aunt Gertrude may be a very good planner – a type A personality. She simply wants to have her affairs in order just in case something unexpected happens and she needs someone’s assistance.

Whatever the reason, Aunt Gertrude needs to choose someone who is trustworthy, capable and available to help when called upon. And therein lies a common problem. Let’s look at Aunt Gertrude’s choices using trustworthy, capable and available as our criteria.

Aunt Gertrude’s sister is the most trustworthy as far as she is concerned. But she lives in California, so she is not available. Aunt Gertrude knows many people at the Senior Center who are capable and available, but she is unsure of how trustworthy some of them are. Judging by the way the sugar packets from the table make their way into some of her friends’ purses, she does not rank them as particularly trustworthy.

Finally, Aunt Gertrude’s niece Milly seems to be her best choice. Milly lives in the same town, so she is nearby and therefore available. Milly graduated from high school a few years ago and was a good student, so she is capable. And Milly is family, so she can certainly be trusted. And since Milly isn’t working full time right now, she seems to be the perfect choice.

Milly has not done anything right or wrong, but alarm bells are likely be going off as you read this. The majority of Power of Attorney financial abuse takes place between family members, so your instincts are backed by the facts. So what is Milly to do? We’ll address that the next time…