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Misusing a Power of Attorney Has Harsh Penalties in Illinois

Posted on in Elder Law Litigation

Illinois probate attorney, Illinois elder law attorneyA power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that enables someone you trust to act on your behalf. Legally speaking, this person can sign your name and act as though they are you with this notarized record. Many times these are used when someone is no longer able to complete transactions themselves due to illness, inability to travel, or distance. A POA can be as strict or open as the creator intends. If the principal signing over the authority is not careful, the agent acting on their behalf can wreak havoc on finances, leaving the principal to pick up the pieces. The practice of misusing a POA constitutes an estimated 60 percent of elder abuse.

General Power of Attorney

POAs are necessary and beneficial to many elderly individuals by enabling a capable individual to take care of important activities. However, rather than handing over complete control, limiting authority is a better solution. A general POA document lists all potential powers, and the principal is required to draw a line through the powers they do not wish their acting agent to have. Without this step, the agent has the full legal capability to act in the following transactions:

  • Real estate,
  • Financial institution,
  • Stocks and bonds,
  • Tangible personal property,
  • Safe deposit box,
  • Insurance and annuity,
  • Retirement plan,
  • Social Security, military, and employment benefits,
  • Tax,
  • Claims and litigation,
  • Business, and
  • Estate.

A POA Is Not a License to Steal

A power of attorney is a far-reaching document. Both the principal and the agent should both understand everything that this duty entails. The agent must know before signing that they agree to:

  • Act on behalf of the principal’s interests, not their own,
  • Keep records of all duties performed in the name of the principal,
  • Complete financial and tax documents,
  • Treat heirs the same, and
  • Conservatively invest assets.

The Illinois Power of Attorney Act

The Illinois Power of Attorney Act became active in 2010 shielding the principal, agents, and the affected third-parties from harm due to the misuse of a power of attorney. Before the passing of this law, there was no liability to the agent to repay any debt caused by misbehavior on their behalf. Not only is the agent now required to repay the debt, but there may also be other charges to follow, including fraud, forgery, or identity theft dependent on the ramifications of the power of attorney.

If You Suspect Fraud

If you are suspicious of fraudulent activity while using a Power of Attorney, it is important to put a stop to it as soon as possible. The agent owes a duty to the principal to carry out their wishes only, not for personal gains. If you are unsure of where to begin and would like to correct the situation, contact a Chicago, IL probate litigation attorney by contacting the Law Offices of Anthony R. Scifo today at 847-628-8305 to arrange a free initial consultation.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/96/096-1195.htm

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2113&

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