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How to protect against the abuse of a power of attorney

On Behalf of | Nov 13, 2023 | Powers Of Attorney |

Powers of attorney are among the most valuable documents that people can add to their estate plans. However, many people are averse to their creation. They worry that someone will abuse the authority that they delegate in their documents.

Most people who draft powers of attorney in Virginia have very little reason for concern about the potential abuse of that authority. Still, there are a few simple tips people can follow to minimize the risk of their agent or attorney-in-fact misusing their position.

Name co-agents

One of the easiest ways to prevent a single person from misusing their power of attorney is to split that authority between two or more people. Virginia law does allow someone to name multiple people to serve as co-agents in their power of attorney paperwork.

Draft two (or more) separate documents

The abuse of authority often comes from one person having too much control. Instead of naming two co-agents, people may want to draft two separate powers of attorney. They can have one person handle their financial matters and another handle their medical needs. People might even draft more than one financial power of attorney if they want to entrust one person with their personal resources and someone else with the management of their business.

Include specific language

The use of boilerplate documents when estate planning is common and dangerous. People who put together bespoke documents customized for their circumstances can include terms that more effectively protect them. For example, they may require that they remain incapacitated for a set amount of time before someone can act on their behalf or restrict their authority to very specific matters.

Carefully planning for the possibility of incapacity can help people feel more confident that they can trust the people empowered to act on their behalf and the documents allowing for this limited authority.