It’s not uncommon for older adults to rely on their adult offspring to help them with various functions. That informal level of assistance can be formalized through a power of attorney that allows the parent to authorize someone to handle certain matters on their behalf, primarily financial. This is a good idea in general because a power of attorney is a vital piece of estate planning. But there are times when it can cause friction within a family, particularly between siblings. The sibling with the power of attorney may use conflict as an excuse to isolate the parent from the other siblings or even from family friends. Is that allowed with a power of attorney?
What Can Someone With a Power of Attorney Do?
Powers of attorney vary in terms of what responsibilities they assign depending on the needs of the person authorizing someone else to have the power of attorney for them. Power of attorney can be very narrow, or it can encompass a wide range of items, which can include any or all of the following:
- Access to someone’s digital communications and assets
- Access to financial documents and decisions
- Ability to create or change trusts
- Ability to change survivorship and beneficiary designations
In Pennsylvania, all powers of attorney come with a notice to the person who will have the power that they must act with due care on behalf of the person they’re representing; act in good faith, and act only within the scope of duty as defined by the power of attorney.
What Is Not Included in a Power of Attorney
A power of attorney covers matters related to property and finances. Some additional powers of attorney can address health issues as well. In that case, the representative can refuse to let the parent see people if the representative believes (in good faith) that those people could harm the parent’s health.
But for powers of attorney that only address property and finances, the representative does not have the right to bar access. If this happens to you or someone you know, and the sibling with the power of attorney refuses to cooperate, it could be time to bring in legal assistance to enforce your rights.
Let Me Advise You
If you or someone you know needs legal assistance with powers of attorney, call me at 610-718-6368.