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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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How can I protect against power of attorney abuse?

The abuse of a power of attorney is a real concern, especially for older Americans working on estate plans. Of course, it is obvious to say that people should choose an agent to act on their behalf both wisely and carefully, but even the best due diligence cannot always prevent power of attorney abuse. Tales of people abusing a power of attorney are making headlines across the nation, and New Jersey is no exception. However, with a little forethought, you can make it harder for someone to abuse a power of attorney.

There are several ways an appointed agent can abuse or misuse a power of attorney. He or she may spend the funds for self-enriching purposes instead of paying for care or covering the needs of the principal. Another form of abuse occurs when the agent who is supposed to act on behalf of the principal allocates some or all of the assets to outside parties. Yet another way a person can abuse this power is by acting beyond the scope of his or her authority.

However abuse occurs, it can devastate the principal's finances and shatter estate plans. This makes it more important than ever to make certain modern powers of attorney prevent these forms of abuse. Sometimes, it can come to down to simple yet powerful language created to limit the agent's authority. Another method of prevention is executing periodic reviews of the document to make sure it is not being misused and is still working on the principal's behalf.

Finally, the best way to build protection against fraudulent activities is to work with an estate planning attorney when creating legal documents. In addition to providing another layer of security, it reminds the agent that an outside party is always looking out for the principal's best interests.

Source: AARP.org, "Power of Attorney Abuse: What States Can Do about It" Dec. 09, 2014

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