Aunt Gertrude needed help, due to her age and her failing health, so she appointed her niece, Milly, as her attorney in fact (often referred to as her “power of attorney”).  Milly loves her Aunt Gertrude, and most of the friends and family are very happy for Gertrude. But not everyone is so happy. . .

It seems that one of the family members, Sidney, is suspicious of Milly – Sid thinks Milly has ulterior motives. So Sid Suspicious starts snooping. She finds out that Milly seems to have plenty of cash to ‘throw around.’ Sid sees Milly spending recklessly; at least that’s what Sid thinks. Sid would like to slide under the radar and sneak a peek at the bank statements. But Sid is not on Aunt Gertrude’s Power of Attorney document, only Milly. So what is Sid Suspicious to do?

Whatever your answer is, it well may determine the future relationship between Sid and Milly and Gertrude. If Milly’s actions are all above board, Milly and possibly even Aunt Gertrude could be offended at the thought of impropriety. If Milly’s actions are not being taken for the sole benefit of the principal, in this case Aunt Gertrude, then Milly may be in some legal hot water.

So what are you to do if you suspect that Milly is taking advantage of Aunt Gertrude in your life? Talk to Milly. You can be polite and still be direct. You can explain your concerns without using normative or accusatory words. If the actions which Milly has taken are all for the benefit of Aunt Gertrude, she should welcome your inquiry. In fact, she should be happy that there is someone else helping to look out for Gertrude’s best interests.

Too many times, we hear the stories of rampant financial abuse of a senior citizen under the protection of the power of attorney document. Those who were around the senior citizen will say, “Well, I didn’t want to get involved,” or “It’s none of my business.” I have been known to ask those people if they are familiar with “sowing and reaping” from the Bible, followed by a warning to “watch out what you plant. . .your crop is coming.”

Do I want you to be Sid Suspicious of everyone around your Aunt Gertrude? No. But neither do I want you to turn a blind eye when you see financial abuse taking place in front of you. Be polite, but inquire.

Please contact Mateya Law Firm to help you with your estate planning and administration needs.