Several widely used estate planning devices may actually assist greedy heirs in helping themselves to your assets. A recent article warns of what these estate planning devices are.
The first device is a power of attorney for finances. This is a document that allows you to specify who you would like to make financial decisions for you should you become unable to make such decisions yourself. Depending on what your specific power of attorney document states, the person who holds your durable power of attorney may be able to write checks out of your bank account, buy and sell your securities, and collect your social security payments.
To avoid abuse of these privileges, it is important not only to carefully choose an agent whom you trust, but also to speak with your estate planning attorney about broadening or narrowing your agent’s power based on your unique situation.
Another device that may easily lend itself to abuse is the joint bank account. If two people jointly own an account, either can make a deposit or withdrawal. Furthermore, at the death of one joint owner, the bank account automatically reverts to the other owner. This reversion occurs even where the deceased joint owner’s will specifies that they would like the account to be inherited by someone else.