If you have a power of attorney, can funds be used by them or is it restricted?

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If you have a power of attorney, can funds be used by them or is it restricted?

I have POA for my uncle. Can funds from his account be used for family and personal expenses?

Asked on July 23, 2018 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You are incorrect: you may NOT use any of his funds for your own personal or family expenses. There are two different restrictions on the POA. The first are the terms of the POA--while many POAs are broad and give the attorney-in-fact or agent (those are the terms for the person given power by the POA) essentially power over all the principal's (the person making the POA; your uncle) property and money, they don't have to; a POA can more limited. So review the POA to see what power you do and don't have.
But second, as the agent, the law imposes a "fiduciary duty" on you: that is the legal obligation to NOT use your uncle's money for yourself, but only for his benefit. If you take his money, etc. for your own benefit, you will be violating this duty. Not only could your uncle, or a guardian on his behalf if he becomes incapacitated, sue you to get the money back, depending on the circumstances, you could be committed a crime (a form of theft) and face criminal prosecution.


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