The idea of being subject to guardianship makes many people nervous. No one wants to have someone else handling all of their major decisions or making decisions without even asking their input. Some people take the step of planning ahead for this possibility.
They draft powers of attorney that delegate financial and medical authority to someone else in the event of their incapacitation. By taking this step while they still retain testamentary capacity, an older adult can effectively name their own guardian for when they are older and need more support.
Unfortunately, naming the wrong person as the power of attorney could lead to hardship for an older adult if the person they trust abuses their authority.
People don’t always put the right limitations in place
The language of someone’s powers of attorney should make it clear what authority and control the agent(s) they named will have. The best protection comes from custom documents that specifically empower someone in certain regards while imposing limits on others. Giving someone only access to one bank account, for example, could reduce the risk of theft. Naming different people for different roles is another common strategy.
Some people use basic documents with no unique language, and they may even grant one person almost unchecked authority over their finances and medical decisions. The person acting with power of attorney should do what is best for the person who drafted the documents, but that isn’t always what happens.
Sometimes, family members may need to intervene. Gathering evidence that actions have undermined your vulnerable loved one’s best interest can help you fight back when someone with power of attorney who should want to protect your loved one acts in their own interest instead.