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How Powerful is a Power of Attorney?

In our previous blog posts, we have reiterated over and over the importance of creating a power of attorney. It is the most inexpensive way to designate a person to act on behalf of someone who is incapacitated or disabled. However, there are also circumstances where a power of attorney can fail. Paul Sullivan’s article highlights a case where a woman was given power of attorney from her brother. However, her childhood name was used to designate her power of attorney. Her middle name, the name she goes by, was not present on the power of attorney document. When she presented the document to the bank, the bank denied her power of attorney even after she explained her situation. Because her legal name wasn’t present on her marriage certificate, passport, driver’s license or birth certificate, she couldn’t get access to her brother’s bank account to pay for his medical care. Unfortunately, it is common for a power of attorney not to be honored if there aren’t enough documents justifying a person's identity. This just goes to show that a power of attorney may not actually be as powerful as one may think. A power of attorney can be denied for multiple reasons. Although banks are very strict when it comes to powers of attorney, they do have a good reason: ELDER FRAUD. If a bank gives a person access to an account without properly checking if the person is named power of attorney, the bank can be sued. It is always a good idea to have a revocable trust. Banks find this ideal because the assets can be put into a trust while the person is still alive.

To avoid any confusion regarding powers of attorney, plan in advance and confirm that the information is correct. Lauren Richardson Law, PLLC, is extremely well-versed when it comes to estate planning and powers of attorney. Feel free to reach out to Lauren Richardson Law, PLLC, if you are in need of any legal guidance.


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