Estate planning can be difficult. It requires people to plan for events to take place after their death or for when they are no longer able to manage their own affairs the way they were accustomed to previously. Planning for these circumstances is very important, however, especially if people want to maintain their independence as long as possible and direct the way their affairs will be managed when they are no longer able to personally manage them. A power of attorney is a very useful tool to achieve these goals, but it is important to make a wise choice to avoid exploitation or other problems, as the story of one Michigan women recently revealed.
According to a recent report, an elderly Michigan woman was recently exploited by a doctor who took advantage of her advanced age. The 97-year-old woman had been a former patient of the doctor, who later befriended her. During the course of the alleged "friendship," the doctor convinced the woman to change her will and give her power of attorney. After those legal changes, the doctor had the elderly woman committed to a mental health facility, where she later died. The doctor not only stole money from the woman's bank account during her life, but also made herself the beneficiary of money from the elderly woman's estate that had previously been set to be bequeathed to a charity.
This story shows the importance of carefully choosing who will exercise power of attorney in the event someone becomes unable to make their own decisions. A power of attorney can be a very effective way of protecting interests if someone makes the choice prior to losing the ability to make sound decisions. When a Michigan resident establishes a power of attorney, that person designates a representative who has the legal authority to make decisions on the person's behalf.
When a person establishes a power of attorney, that person can specify exactly when the power of attorney becomes effective and in what specific areas of life the power can be exercised. A healthcare power of attorney is one example. It allows the representative to make decisions related to the person's healthcare. In other situations, a power of attorney can relate to financial matters or personal matters.
Source: Herald Palladium, "Doctor suspended for stealing from patient," Julie Swidwa, Nov. 27, 2014