One of the bigger jobs involved in the daily life of an elder law attorney is writing power of attorney documents. A power of attorney is a document in which a person, sometimes called the principal, appoints another person, an agent, to act on the senior's behalf. The agent can be given very broad powers or just a few specific ones.
Some people hire elder law attorneys to write up these documents so they can prevent a parent from becoming the victim of financial abuse. Here's what you need to know.
What Is Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse of elders is a big problem. Many seniors become victims of financial abuse, and a large number of cases go unreported. Financial abuse can be defined as the illegal or improper use of a senior's money, property, or assets.
There are many different ways that financial abuse can happen. For example, a caregiver may steal money from a senior's bank account, use the senior's credit card without permission, or pressure the senior into signing over property or assets.
How Does a Power of Attorney Prevent Financial Abuse?
A properly-drafted power of attorney can go a long way toward preventing financial abuse. The document can give the agent very specific powers, such as the ability to write checks on the senior's behalf, pay the senior's bills, or access the senior's bank account.
The power of attorney can also be written so that it only goes into effect if the senior becomes incapacitated. This means that the agent can't access the senior's finances unless the senior is unable to do so themselves.
When Should You Draft a Power of Attorney?
It's a good idea to draft a power of attorney early in life and to revise it frequently. This is because you never know when an emergency may arise. If a senior suddenly becomes incapacitated, it may be too late to draft a power of attorney.
It's also a good time to hire an elder law attorney if your loved one may be moving into a nursing home or somewhere they may be around new caretakers. This can reduce some of the risks of financial abuse by a stranger.
How Can You Draft a Power of Attorney?
There are a few different ways to go about drafting a power of attorney. The safest and most effective method is to hire an attorney to draw up the document. Schedule a consultation with your parent and an elder law attorney to begin this process.