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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

91-year-old man raises money to prevent eviction by daughter

This is a story about John Potter, a man who signed over Power of Attorney to his daughter. His daughter has used the POA to sell off parcels of land the father owned, and to transfer his house to her. Oh, and once she got the house, to evict him from it. Click here to read the story from

I wish I could say that POA abuse is rare, but it's not. One sentence that I'd like everyone to notice is the quote from Mr. Potter in which he says that he just can't believe that his daughter would ever do this to him. That sentence is vitally important, because it's the same thing that everyone says when it happens to them.

While I would never advocate mistrust between family members, neither would I advocate blindly handing over the legal power to sell everything you own without seriously considering everything you can do to protect yourself against misuse of the power. Yes, it's your son or daughter you've named, but as Mr. Potter's story - and the story of thousands of other trusting seniors - shows, they aren't all immune to greed or pressure from others.

Does it make sense to give your son or daughter absolute power to deal with everything you own if that person has money troubles, an addiction such as gambling, or a spouse who openly covets your bank account? Protect yourself!

Something that I noticed in Mr. Potter's story is that his daughter has been using his POA for quite some time, although he appears to have full mental capacity. There should be no reason to hand over that financial power until you actually need the help.

Your POA is just as important as your will. Remember that if someone steals or wastes your estate while you're alive, not only will there be nothing left for your family, there may well be nothing left for you to live on yourself. Don't accept a POA that is nothing more than an afterthought to your will. Talk it out with an experienced estate lawyer to make sure you're aware of all of the consequences of signing the POA document.

The attached photo of John Potter is credited to ABC News.

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