Monday, January 05, 2009

ABC reports on "power of attorney abuse" by caregivers of the elderly

ABC Good Morning America this morning (Jan. 5, 2009) ran a story on “power of attorney abuse” by caregivers or relatives of the elderly.

The news segment reported in incident in Spokane, WA where grandchildren of an 83 year old woman with dementia got power of attorney after moving in as caregivers, then got title to her house, drained her accounts, sold the house, and evicted her. Eventually the children (not grandchildren) caught on and contacted police. The grandchildren were prosecuted for fraud and sentenced to two years in prison, but the woman died in an assisted living facility.

An attorney appearing on ABC suggested use of “shared power of attorney” and suggested that the senior review the accounting of his or her money frequently.

All states have facilities to report adult abuse somewhere in their social services or law enforcement setups.

The ABC News website now has a story "Don't give power of attorney to the wrong person: will power of attorney abuse rise because of the wrong person?" by Rich McHugh and Johann Brady, link here.

It's also possible to protect an elder's savings by putting them in trust and having a trustee manage how they can be spent. In rarer cases, this technique can be helpful against other hidden circumstances (like downstream liability). There are many trust attorneys in every city.

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