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Important considerations to make before naming power of attorney

Assigning someone the responsibility of making medical and/or financial decisions on your behalf is not a decision to be made lightly. These are very important obligations that put a person in a position of considerable power, so it is critical that you take seriously the process of giving someone power of attorney.

Before you authorize someone to access your finances, for instance, you will want to be sure that person is capable of handling such a responsibility. Failure to do this could have costly consequences.

One man recently learned that his sister was not the best person to give power of attorney after she stole $150,000 from him. According to reports, the woman withdrew money from her brother's retirement account and bank account and used it to buy herself things like clothes, accessories and massages.

This type of situation is, sadly, not uncommon. Too many people abuse their roles as power of attorney out of greed or negligence, which can cause considerable damage for the person who relied on them to act in his or her best financial interests.

In order to avoid a similar situation, you should ask some important questions before assigning power of attorney to someone. 

  1. Is the person good with money?
  2. Does he or she have a history of criminal or irresponsible behavior?
  3. Will this person be able to handle the responsibility of having access to someone else's finances?
  4. Is he or she honest and trustworthy?
  5. Could there be someone else better suited for the role? 

Based on how you answer these questions, you might discover that the person you are considering may not be the best option. Alternatively, you might conclude that the person is exactly right for the job.

You might not be able to guarantee that the person to whom you give power of attorney will make responsible decisions on your behalf. However, when you make this decision deliberately and after careful consideration, you can hopefully spot any red flags before anything is final. 

For more information on granting power of attorney and/or potential signs of breached fiduciary duties, it would be wise to consult an attorney as soon as possible.

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