Can we be prosecuted as power of attorney?

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Can we be prosecuted as power of attorney?

My mother in law is in a nursing home,
we have power of attorney over her
account, we have had to use some money
for personal reasons and are behind on
paying, can we go to jail?

Asked on May 15, 2018 under Estate Planning, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you could face criminal prosecution, unless you have permission (in writing! so you can prove it) from her to use her money for the reason you did. The key is, it is  *her* money, not yours; while you have some power over it, that power must be exercised for *her* benefit, not yours--the attorney-in-fact or agent (those are the terms for a person given authority by a POA) has a "fiduciary duty," or a duty/obligation imposed by law, to act in the principal's (your mother-in-law; the person giving you the POA) interest, not their own.


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