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Protect yourself from power of attorney abuse

There are many decisions to be made when making an estate plan, and many Maryland residents may find it difficult or stressful. Naming a power of attorney can be especially stressful for some. However, giving a person this responsibility, and instructions of when they are able to exercise the powers that come with it, could help to protect the estate planner and his or her property.

A caregiver was recently arrested for stealing more than $40,000 in cash and an additional $5,000 worth of jewelry from her employer, a wheelchair-bound woman in Florida. She had used her employer's debit card, forged multiple checks, and taken the jewelry to a pawn shop claiming that it was her own. The fraudulent charges and missing jewelry were found after she was let go for not providing her charge with adequate care. Initially, the woman denied the allegations claiming that she had been granted power of attorney and was acting in her employer's interest.

Upon hearing these claims, the authorities located the notary responsible for notarizing the victim's power of attorney documents. This individual revealed that her caregiver was a secondary power of attorney. However, the caregiver was only to be given these responsibilities in the event of the victim's death.

Cases like this one show how naming a specific power of attorney and how providing specific instructions concerning when these powers are to be available can help to protect a person's assets. Maryland residents who wish to know more about estate planning, writing a will or naming a power of attorney may want to consider speaking with an attorney. Lawyers can help their clients to understand what responsibilities their powers of attorney will have and to what they will have access.

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