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McCurrie McCurrie
& McCurrie, L.L.C.

680 Kearny Avenue
Kearny, NJ 07032-3010
Phone: (201) 467-4180
Fax: (201) 997-9567
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Helping loved ones avoid power of attorney abuse

The power of attorney is a powerful legal document that grants a person full control over many aspects of a person's estate, including medical treatment, finances and estate distribution. In some states a divorce automatically revokes a power of attorney granted to a spouse.

Other states have laws that inhibit the ability of agents to misuse a power of attorney, but there are still problems that can occur with this document.

The idea of incapacity is handled on a case-by-case basis. For example, conditions like dementia do not necessarily render a person unable to make decisions related to his or her estate. The power of attorney only goes into effect if the signer is incapacitated. Otherwise, their decisions always outweigh the desires of the appointed agent. To be most effective, it is vital that a power of attorney clearly outlines when the person in question will be designated as incapacitated.

Even so, there have been cases when a neighbor or child has convinced an incapacitated person to grant him power of attorney, and these cases are usually only solved in the courtroom.

It's important to remember, however, that revoking a power of attorney does not necessarily grant you the new authority. In addition, a revoked power of attorney cannot usually be used to recoup any portion of the estate that has already been lost. This makes it crucial for family members to stay in contact with one another and be watchful of opportunistic fraudsters that could take advantage of a loved one.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, "YOUR HEALTH: Power-of-attorney privileges sometimes misused," Tammie Smith, Sept. 26, 2011

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