The Power of Attorney — Things You Need to Know to Protect Elderly Loved Ones

May 03, 2012  /  By: Roger Levine, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Powers of Attorney

At its most basic, a power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the legal authority to act on your behalf. A POA is a fairly commonly used legal tool and when used correctly, a very effective legal tool. If you have an elderly loved one, be sure to educate yourself and your loved one about the proper use of a POA as well as the risks associated with giving someone POA. Sadly, elderly Americans are abused and taken advantage of in record numbers in the United States and a POA is often a “weapon” of choice for those who wish to commit fraud, or outright theft, from an elderly victim.

People tend to think of abuse and neglect of the elderly as limited to physical or mental abuse. In fact, financial abuse is one of the most common forms of abuse. If you have an elderly loved one who requires care from someone outside the family, the risk of abuse is always present. Unfortunately, abuse can even occur within the family. Gaining control over an elderly victim’s finances can be done rather easily with the POA.

A POA can be very specific or can be very broad. A specific POA, for instance, may give someone the authority to complete the sale of a car on your behalf. A broad POA, however, basically opens up the flood gates to all of your assets and accounts. If someone convinces your elderly loved one to sign a broad POA, the perpetrator could clean out his or her accounts in record time. A broad POA is rarely needed, especially by someone who is not family. Be sure you talk to your loved one about POAs and encourage him or her to notify you immediately if anyone broaches the subject.

Levine & Furman, LLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Different Types of Power of Attorney

Nov 16, 2011  /  By: Roger Levine, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney are legal documents you can create to give other people the ability to make legally binding decisions on your behalf. There are a wide variety of powers of attorney available for you to use, differing by the powers granted, the time when the powers take effect and how long the powers last. Power of attorney laws differ significantly between states, so it’s always best to talk to a lawyer if you want to create, grant or receive any power of attorney.

Powers of attorney can take effect immediately or at a later time. A power of attorney that takes place at some later time is known as a springing power. These powers only take effect if a specific condition takes place. For example, you can create a springing power of attorney that takes effect only if you become hospitalized or one that takes effect on a specific date.

Powers of attorney also differ based on when they terminate. A power of attorney typically ends when the principal, the person granting the power, becomes unable to make decisions. This is known as losing capacity. A principal who, for example, is injured in an accident and becomes comatose automatically revokes all powers of attorney. However, if the principal granted a durable power of attorney, those powers do not terminate when the principal loses capacity.

It is up to the principal to determine what kind of powers to grant with a power of attorney. Often, however, principals choose to grant one of two kinds of powers: financial and healthcare. A financial power of attorney allows the person receiving the power, known as an agent, to make financial decisions on the principal’s behalf, while a healthcare power of attorney allows the agent to make medical decisions.

Levine & Furman, LLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.