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How is an attorney-in-fact held accountable?

What is an attorney-in-fact?

An attorney-in-fact is someone who holds a power of Attorney for another person.

What is the responsibility of an attorney-in-fact?

An attorney-in-fact has been trusted with handling the affairs of another, whether it is his or her money, assets or medical affairs. Their responsibility is to act "in good faith" with what has been entrusted to their care and to always put the person's interests first when administering his or her affairs.

How does the principal person know if the attorney-in-fact is putting his or her interests first?

The attorney-in-fact should be keeping records of every transaction he or she makes in regards to the estate's administration. The principal person can request to see those records at any time. They may also ask for detailed explanations of any transactions regarding their property.

What if the person for whom the power of attorney is held believes his or her attorney-in-fact is not properly honoring his or her best interests?

The attorney-in-fact is bound by what is dictated on the Power of Attorney document. If he or she puts his or her own interests before the principal person's interests, the court may be requested to review the handling of his or her affairs. If the court believes the attorney-in-fact has not acted in good faith, he or she may be required to pay the person back for any improper use of funds or property.

What if the power of attorney document was not clear in its wording about a matter?

If, for instance, the attorney-in-fact took it upon him or herself to invest some of the person's funds, and the document did not specify the right to do so, it will be up to the court to decide if the Attorney-in-Fact invested the money in good faith with the principal person's best interest in mind.

A power of attorney is a binding document that should be drawn up carefully under the guidance of an estate attorney. Proper wording and careful attention to detail can protect a person's assets and property from any misinterpretation later.

Source: Legal Aid Network of Kentucky, "Power of Attorney: Duties and Responsibilities," accessed Aug. 28, 2015

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