(The BiFocal e-newsletter is a publication of the ABA Commission on Law and Aging. In a recent BiFocal e-newsletter, the ABA Commission published the following guidance on defensive practices that may be used to prevent misuse of a power of attorney, such as careful selection of agents, drafting in oversight and accounting, and limiting powers. The guidance published in the BiFocal is reproduced below.)

Misuse of a power of attorney is one of the primary tools of abuse and exploitation. Agents on powers of attorney overstep their authority or breach their fiduciary duties. Oversteps include making decisions outside the scope of the authority granted and excluding others from contact with the grantor (forms of abuse or neglect.) Breach of fiduciary duty ranges from failure to account for assets, conflicts of interest, to outright theft. The good news is that the majority of agents on powers of attorney, do the right things for the right reasons. The bad news is not all do.

See the following published by the ABA Commission on Law and Aging: The Power of Attorney Tip sheet: Five Safeguards to Consider Adding to Any Power of Attorney for Finances.

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