Monday, September 5, 2011
What Did You Do With Mom's Money?
What if mom has several children and names one of them to hold her power of attorney? Does this mean the child can do anything he or she wants with mom’s money? Does that child have to tell the other kids what he has done with the money if they ask? Under Virginia law, the giving of a power of attorney does not give the child complete unfettered use of the parent’s money, and accountings for its use can be required. A power of attorney is a document that names an agent to handle financial matters. This does not give the child the power to use the money for himself or herself. Instead it is to be used for the parent as the parent has directed. The child is the parent’s agent and has a fiduciary duty to the parent. If you are a child who holds a power of attorney for your mom or dad, it is very important that you understand what powers you do or do not have under Virginia law and what records you must keep. If your mom or dad is incapacitated and you are concerned that the agent may be abusing a power of attorney or if your parent died and you don’t know what happened to the money that was being managed for him or her under a power of attorney, there are provisions in the law about how an accounting can be required. Also, if you are a parent granting a power of attorney, it is very important that you make a wise choice about who will hold your power of attorney. As elder law attorneys, we help people with these decisions.