Power of AttorneyBad estate planning decisions happen all the time, even when you have a great attorney. One common mistake: Choosing the wrong person to be your power of attorney. A recent case in the news was a great reminder. http://www.channel3000.com/news/crime/power-of-attorney-charged-with-taking-using-mans-money-for-personal-use/607446161.

In that case, a Wisconsin woman became an elderly man’s power of attorney. After time, she began to spend his money on herself. Using his power of attorney and his money, she paid her mortgage and other bills. After she done, there was nothing to pay his bills. What she did is a crime in Wisconsin and in Arizona. She is now facing six felony counts.

What this woman did is not unique. It happens every day all over Arizona. However, it is preventable in many cases. My advice is the following: Choose a power of attorney when you don’t need one—when you have a clear head—and when you are still competent to make good decisions.  Once you need a power of attorney you may not be in a position to make well-reasoned decisions.

When choosing a power of attorney, be honest with yourself.  Does the person have good judgement? Is there anything in his/her character that would suggest he/she is not trustworthy? If you cannot answer these questions positively, choose a different power of attorney.  A person who has a history of dishonest acts or bad financial decisions should not be your power of attorney.

If you cannot find someone to trust, get a professional fiduciary to be a power of attorney for you. The professional will pay your household bills, manage your finances, and take care of any other issue in your life.  Most of all, a licensed and insured professional will keep you from being victimized.

Of course, I am writing about Arizona law, this general information may not be right for your specific claim, and is not legal advice. I’d be happy to talk to you, so give me a call at Davis Miles McGuire Gardner, 480-733-6800 or email me at rsewell@davismiles.com.