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Family members are often the first to be considered when someone is working to establish a power of attorney. Those close to an individual are usually a trustworthy source to rely on in terms of estate planning. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

A Montgomery Village woman is facing an embezzlement charge after she acknowledged she embezzled $250,000 from her mother, for whom she holds power of attorney. The woman is said to have admitted to embezzling the nearly $250,000 from her mother from 2009 to early 2011. After the woman's mother began exhibiting signs of dementia in 2008, power of attorney was granted to the daughter.

Financial records show that more than $100,000 was spent on senior living care, which when added to the embezzled amount, takes the total to $354,000 having been removed from her estate. On May 16, the woman pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement, a charge which carries up to five years in jail under Maryland law.

The $250,000 embezzled from this elderly woman is said to have been spent on personal expenses including painting, heating and air, remodeling, landscaping, and other personal items. Authorities at the senior living care center where the elderly woman was living became suspicious after $52,000 was owed to them. They contacted the state attorney's office suspicious of senior financial abuse, which led to the charges against the daughter.

When a Maryland resident decides to draft a power of attorney for any number of reasons, there should be a great deal of care in ensuring the safety and security of said individual. The decision of who to appoint as attorney-in-fact should be very carefully weighed. No one wants to consider that a loved one may take advantage of them and their finances, but financial hardship, which is prevalent in today's economy, may cause people to behave in ways that they normally would not. Individuals involved in the power of attorney drafting process may benefit from outside support and assistance to ensure that their finances and well-being are taken care of.

Source: Gazette.net, "Montgomery Village woman admits to embezzling nearly $250,000 from elderly mother," Jeremy Arias, May 17, 2012

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