What are my Duties as Agent on a Power of Attorney?

By: Ami S. Longstreet

Your mom has appointed you as her agent on her power of attorney. Now what?

All powers of attorney signed on or after September 12, 2010, must be signed by the agent (you), acknowledging your appointment in order for you to act. The power of attorney document informs the agent (you) of your legal responsibilities: to act according to the principal’s instructions, or where there are no instructions, in the principal’s best interest; avoid conflicts that would impair your ability to act in the principal’s best interest; and keep records of your transactions as agent.

The power of attorney specifically states:
“You may not use the principal’s assets to benefit yourself or anyone else or make gifts to yourself or anyone else unless the principal has specifically granted you that authority . . . If you have that authority, you must act according to any instructions of the principal or, where there are no such instructions, in the principal’s best interest . . . If it is found that you have violated the law or acted outside the authority granted to you in the Power of Attorney, you may be liable under the law for your violation.”

It is therefore important to take your role as agent on a power of attorney very seriously to avoid legal consequences. You have this duty to act in the agent’s best interest regardless of when the power of attorney was signed. Following is a link to an article from Syracuse.com reporting on a recent successful prosecution of agents under a power of attorney where, instead of acting in the best interest of the principal, they acted in their own self-interest: Oswego County couple convicted of stealing over $200,000 from elderly retired Air Force vet

 

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