Garton & Harris

Abuse of power of attorney responsibilities may be on the rise

Those who take the time to write their estate plans more than likely give special consideration to whom they choose for specific tasks. Giving someone the responsibilities documented within a power of attorney places great trust in that individual not to take advantage of what could be a very volatile financial situation. It is surprising how many people who are formally given this role in British Columbia and all across Canada abuse it, and very often those who do are adult children.

Power of attorney abuse may cause a great deal of embarrassment, and this may be the reason not all seniors report such abuse when it happens, especially when it is a child who is taking advantage of a stressful situation. Typically, a power of attorney is created in order to designate a certain individual to look after the finances of person who formally establishes the legal document. Sadly, on too many occasions, those who are given this power use it for their own financial gain.

Experts say it may be a good idea to designate more than one person for these responsibilities within a power of attorney in order to provide checks and balances down the road if needed. By requiring two people to agree to every financial move, abuse is less likely to occur. It may be, too, that children aren't the best choice for the role. Unfortunately, if a parent feels he or she can't trust a child with issues pertaining to money, designating that child for this role could result in a multitude of negative consequences.

Creating a seamless power of attorney can be a challenging experience for most British Columbia residents. Acquiring experienced legal counsel during this time may prove invaluable to ensuring one's financials are someday handled in a safe and proper manner. An estates lawyer can also help fight for justice if abuse of an existing power of attorney is suspected

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