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As family members age, they may not be aware of all of the changes in how people do business, and may not protect themselves as much as they can. To assist them, more active family members may want to have paperwork in place so that they can monitor the vulnerable family member's financial well-being. In Maryland and elsewhere, a power of attorney allows the designated family member to go through the grantor's financial records and make sure that finances are in order and are being well maintained.

In a recent incident, a woman was arrested for obtaining a power of attorney for herself and using it to steal money. The woman who was victimized noticed that nearly $30,000 had been taken from her personal account. She found out when she went to the bank to take care of some business.

The bank looked into her records and determined that someone had filed paperwork, including a power of attorney, and had used it to make the withdrawals. The victim stated that she did not know the person on the power of attorney forms. Her wallet and Social Security card had been stolen prior to the theft of her money.

While not all crimes can be prevented, an active family member could have alerted the bank to the possibility of fraud after the woman's wallet went missing. In addition, it may be helpful to know that a power of attorney can be misused, so that people may provide more protection to the vulnerable members of their families. Being aware of both the strengths and weaknesses associated with various forms of legal paperwork in Maryland can enable people to better care for themselves and their families.

Source: khou.com, "Houston woman accused of stealing money using power of attorney documents," Feb. 4, 2013

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