One of the ways to avoid having a guardianship imposed is to have an effectively working “lesser restrictive alternative” in place. A power of attorney is an example of a lesser restrictive alternative. Although, it is important to note, that the power of attorney does NOT automatically mean that a guardianship will be avoided. It can be misused or not used at all. It can be revoked.
If there is a power of attorney in place, it is important that the person acting under the authority given by it, follow some basic rules/guidelines. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released a guide called “Managing Someone Else’s Money: Help For Agents Under a Power of Attorney”. It is a great resource. It sets forth, in very basic, understandable language, what a power of attorney is, what a person’s duties are under the power of attorney, how to recognize financial exploitation, and contact information for varioius agencies that deal with exploitation.
The 4 basic duties of an agent acting under a power of attorney for a principal (the person granting the power):
- Act only in the Principal’s best interest.
- Manage the Principal’s money carefully
- Keep the Principal’s money and property separate from your own
- Keep good records
Check out this great resource for more details!