Power of attorney is a valuable tool as it allows people to have their affairs managed even when they are incapacitated. It can sometimes open the door to abuse, though. People who have been given powers of attorney may misuse what they have been entrusted with for their own personal gain.
On Nov. 29, a 31-year-old Wayne County woman was charged with embezzlement after allegedly mismanaging her father's assets. She was granted power of attorney over her father's affairs in June 2010, six months before he was placed in a nursing home. In January 2012 the woman was named as her father's guardian and conservator, but in February the county probate court froze her father's account.
State officials say that for the 18 months prior to the account being frozen the woman was misusing her father's account. As well as failing to pay the bills for his nursing care, she is alleged to have used his money to lease vehicles in her name, visit casinos and restaurants, pay for beauty treatments and make loan repayments. In total, it is alleged that she embezzled around $140,000 from his account.
The state's investigation was conducted in collaboration with the Stop Crimes Against Michigan Seniors project. Attorney General Bill Schuette, announcing the charges, reported that the project has led to the prosecution of 17 cases of embezzlement against Michigan seniors and secured 12 convictions, as well as recovered $129,000 in restitution payments.
Power of attorney is a privilege that needs to be granted carefully and with appropriate precautions. Anyone considering giving another person this responsibility should investigate what assistance is available to him or her in terms of protection of assets.
Source: Observer & Eccentric, "Redford woman charged with embezzlement," David Veselenak, Dec. 8, 2012