Grant your power of attorney like you would use your stress relief spinner. Use with caution.
Recently, my kids brought home on of those stress reliever spinning things. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5EzT4sE-No
Essentially to relieve stress, you put the spinner in your fingers, and through the wonders of centrifugal force, the spinner creates a weird sensation in your hand. Admittedly, the gadget fascinated me for about 10 minutes – and remarkably, it did relieve stress. Then as my concentration faltered, I let it drop and the thing flew across the room, a whirring mass of physics gone awry, nearly missing my unimpressed dog by mere inches. This stress reliever performed a function – stress relief. However along with the function came potential danger. Accordingly it needed to be handled with caution.
As I was thinking about the topic of Continuing Powers of Attorney for property, it occurred to me that like the spinner, powers of attorney perform a very important function. We can make a continuing power of attorney for property, to grant a person we trust power to deal with our financial affairs, even when we become incapable ourselves. It is really an essential part of an estate plan.
In theory and in practice, the person you appoint to manage your finances owes a fiduciary duty to act in good faith. In most cases the person appointed does in fact act properly. However, with power over your finances, there is a possibility for abuse. If your appointee is a scoundrel, the people hurt may spend years trying to recover misappropriated assets
So what are you options?
- Have no power of attorney, and if you lose capacity, then someone must apply to the court to manage your financial affairs. This takes the choice out of your hands, and places much extra expense and delay
- Have a power of attorney, but understand and take the risk that someone misuses it.
Really that is it. I tell my clients to only appoint someone you trust completely. If there is no one, consider appointing a professional to act as the attorney for property. This can be a lawyer or a trust company.
In the meantime, try out one of those stress relievers. They are fascinating. But please, be careful