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Does the potential for abuse have you avoiding power of attorney?

As you work to create your estate plan, you may know that you want to create a will in order to distribute your assets. In fact, you may only consider the tools that could help you set your end-of-life affairs in order. However, your estate plan can encompass much more information, and you may also want to review your options for planning for potential incapacitation.

In particular, appointing a power of attorney agent may be worth your consideration. You may have heard about naming an agent to act on your behalf when it comes to financial matters in the event that you can no longer make important decisions for yourself, but you could have also felt hesitant about making such an appointment. After all, couldn't someone abuse that power and just run off with your money?

Choose a trustworthy person

It is an unfortunate reality that some individuals do carry out unscrupulous acts after obtaining positions of power. However, if you choose to plan ahead, you have the ability to choose your own power of attorney agent. Therefore, you have the chance to pick someone who you believe has the qualities necessary to act in an honorable and respectful manner. Choosing the right person for the job could vastly limit the potential for abuse.

Consider a double-check system

Of course, it is unlikely that anyone would purposefully choose an untrustworthy person to take on such an important role. If you feel that the individual you want to act as your power of attorney agent could suit the position, but some hesitancy still exists, you could require that another party double-check your agent's actions. The terms of your power of attorney document could include instructions for your agent to check in with another family member or financial advisor to review financial transactions.

Limit the power of the agent

You could also help lessen the likelihood of abuse by limiting the power of your agent in the terms of your document. Rather than simply giving the person free reign over all of your funds and financial transactions, you can instruct how and when your agent can act and use certain assets.

Appointing a power of attorney agent can be vastly beneficial, but having concerns over giving someone such power is understandable. Fortunately, you can explore your options and the various ways in which you can limit the potential for abuse, which may help you feel more confident in your appointment.

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Leonard F. Berg, Attorney at Law