A good set of power of attorney documents is key to any estate plan. It allows whoever you’ve appointed to act on your behalf when you’re unable to do so. However, clients are sometimes hesitant to sign a power of attorney because they’re afraid they’re giving away too much control over their assets or worry that whoever they’ve appointed may abuse that power. We always explain that whoever you appoint as your power of attorney is acting on your behalf, and cannot act against your wishes. A power of attorney has a fiduciary duty to act in your best interest and at your direction.
A recent case from Texas emphasizes these points. In Natho v. Texas, a lady named her grandson-in-law as her power of attorney. He decided to transfer several of her assets into his name, and when she requested that he transfer them back, he liquidated the assets and kept the proceeds. The Court found him guilty of misapplication of an elderly person’s fiduciary property and sentenced him to twenty-five years in prison.
There are real consequences on the rare occasion that a power of attorney acts against your wishes. The benefit of having someone named to help you in case you need it far outweighs the potential danger that the person acts improperly.