Craig Reaves, past president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, practices elder law in Kansas City, Mo., and fields occasional questions from New Old Age readers.
On the topic of disclosures, a reader inquired about what to do about her family of eight siblings and one elderly father. Long ago the siblings got together and put two of the sisters in charge of their father, largely because his will and other directives advised as much. As a result, they were granted power-of-attorney and access to his accounts.
Now, the reader has discovered that they aren’t forthcoming with information about their father, his care, and his finances. The reader is worried that she won’t hear anything until there’s a demand for money to care for their elderly father, and, perhaps, that the original funds weren’t adequately used.
The response of Craig Reaves is tailored to the reader’s unique situation, but his advice is applicable for many in this same or similar position. As a preliminary caveat, there are specific state laws (i.e., like those regarding “powers of attorney”) that govern the authority, responsibility and liability of agents and fiduciaries. If there remains a concern of possible abuse of an elderly loved one by an agent, one may petition the court in your county, however this should be a last resort as this can be a very costly process.
Read Craig Reaves’ enlightening response in his original post.
Powers of attorneys are vital documents in order to avoid costs and expense of guardianships, however they grant an individual a lot of authority to act and potentially abuse a loved one. Make sure the law or the documents offer some checks and balances in order to encourage proper action by a power of attorney.
Reference: The New York Times – The New Old Age Blog ( January 18, 2012) “Ask the Elder Law Attorney: Disclosures and Loans”