Sunday, December 23, 2012

Power of Attorney Abuse

Please visit my petition to strengthen the protections of the elderly against Power of Attorney abuse.  The link to the petition posted on the White House web site is as follows:

We the People White House Web Site for Citizen petitions

Abuse of Powers of Attorney (POA), especially in the case of the elderly, is currently very hard to recognize and difficult to prosecute because of the limitations in or absence of state laws that define it. When you are a senior it is increasingly more difficult to monitor whether your agent is acting on your behalf and it is estimated that over 80,000 cases of elder abuse through power of attorney abuse are reported each year.  We believe that state laws should recognize this and impose legal requirements over the whole process of power of attorney; from drawing up the POA, allowing for auditing the POA and defining specific procedures and penalties for prosecution of abuse where the principal is incapacitated or not.

For example, when a person (principal) visits a lawyer to draw up a Power of Attorney the law should protect the principal by requiring the lawyer to give statistics on Power of Attorney abuse.  Additionally, the law should require the attorney to offer protections in the the letter of the Power of Attorney document.  

Such protections might include requiring a named third party family member to review the financial books of the principal to ensure that the agent is acting in the best interest of the principal.  Most of the cases of Power of Attorney abuse stem from the agent using the principal's assets for their own benefit.  This has made the Power of Attorney become known as the license to steal.  

There should be a statement in the Power of Attorney document that holds the agent liable for any actions taken that are not in the best interest of the principal.  State laws should define these transgressions and assign criminal and civil penalties appropriate to the crime.

Suspicion of abuse by other family members should be enough to require a court to open up the principals financial records for scrutiny and evidence of abuse.

The POA document should not allow clauses that generally describe insurance policies that the agent may take out on the principal where the agent is the beneficiary.

The POA document should not allow the POA agent to be the same person as one who is also the sole beneficiary of the estate described in the last will and testament of the principal.

The POA document should not allow clauses that allow the agent to make gifts to himself/herself or the agent's family members.

The POA document should not use open ended statements that would benefit the POA. For example,  being paid fair, reasonable and adequate compensation for services plus all expenses especially when the POA is a family member or other person who is benefitting from the housing, food, utilities and comfort of residing in the principal's home without paying for any of it.

If abuse is found, there should be penalties established and carried out against the (POA) agent.

It is certain that all of us will age.  In order to prevent the despicable acts of elder abuse and Power of Attorney abuse that I have seen occur and may one day affect any one of us, I urgently ask your support of the petition I have posted and noted the link here and above.  We the People White House petition site

Thank you for your support.