From Our “Ask a Question” mailbag: “I have heard stories about Power of Attorney abuse and theft. So, where do I keep my Power of Attorney?”
Power of Attorney abuse is a real problem. A typical durable general power of attorney gives your “Agent” the authority to access your accounts and sell your assets. These capabilities are essential so your Agent can take care of you. But, they are also powers that can lead to theft and fraud.
Prevent Power of Attorney Abuse: Where NOT To Keep Your Power of Attorney Documents.
Keeping your Power of Attorney unsecured in your house is not the best idea if you only want your Agent to have access only if you become incapacitated. Further, storing your Power of Attorney in your safe deposit box also doesn’t work. If you are incapacitated, your Agent will not be able to access your safe deposit box.
A Power of Attorneys Should be Ready To Use But Sheltered From Abuse.
My clients typically leave the original Durable Power of Attorney in our will safes. We do not charge for this service. The client gives me written instructions authorizing me to release the Power of Attorney. But, I can release it only if I have proof of the grantor’s incapacity. I can typically get this proof by contacting the client’s doctor. Using this process allows you to have a Power of Attorney ready to use, but shelters it from abuse.
There are other options to help protect you from Power of Attorney abuse. These include naming more than one person to act as “Co-Agents.” You may also choose to utilize a Revocable Living Trust in tandem with your Power of Attorney. Corporate Agents or Co-Agents also provide a layer of protection. There are other options which may help, but I would need to know more about you, your assets, and your family. The best solution is to set up a free consultation where we can go over your situation and craft a plan that best fits your needs.
Contact our office for a free consultation if you have further questions about Powers of Attorney or estate planning.
Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Estate Litigation It’s All We Do!
Peter Klenk, Esq.