The problem inherent when appointing someone as your attorney in fact (through the power of attorney document) is oversight. Who is watching the person who you have appointed as your attorney in fact? And if you are saying “Why, my niece is my ‘power of attorney.’ She would never do anything that would cause me harm.” If you’ve just had this thought, you need to go back to the beginning of this blog and review some of the things that my fictional character “Milly” has done to her “Aunt Gertrude.”
These characters are fictional, but I have personally witnessed everything I have written about in this blog. It’s like the old Dragnet TV show. . .”the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Real people, usually seniors, have these real problems with the power of attorney document every day.
A simple addition to the generic power of attorney document can create a duty for your attorney in fact to report his or her actions to an independent third party. The advantages are many.
First, if your attorney in fact, let’s use Niece Milly, is purchasing cat food, a cat box, and paying vet bills from Aunt Gertrude’s account as her attorney in fact, and Aunt Gertrude does not own a cat, that’s a problem. When this purchase is reported to the independent third-party, that person will question Milly about the expense and either require her to reimburse Aunt Gertrude or take the appropriate action, including legal action which can be both civil and criminal.
Second, suppose Milly is acting appropriately towards Aunt Gertrude and each of the actions she takes and bills she pays are, indeed, for the benefit of Aunt Gertrude. If she reports to an independent third party, and that person reviews the actions and finds them to be appropriate, Niece Milly now has someone to call on to prove that she has acted appropriately in case anyone accuses her of wrongdoing.
I will explore this subject further in our next post. Thank you to all of you who have been following our blogs. Keep your questions coming, and if I may use your question publicly, please let me know so that I can share the information with everyone.