This is a cautionary tale about what can happen, when the wrong person is given power of attorney. The problem here is that a man changed his power of attorney without any review or oversight from any family members, including his own wife.
Why Dorothy Jorgenson’s husband changed his power of attorney just days before his death, is something that only he and the relative he named will ever know. However, the relative acted fast and took more than $70,000 from the couple’s joint bank account, says WPRI.com in the article, “Son questions power of attorney after mother's bank account is drained.”
"When I went to pick up a prescription for my mother, there was insufficient funds to pick up a prescription," Dorothy's son, Gene Weston, said. "I can’t believe that someone would do that to an elderly woman."
The couple had been married for almost twenty years. Both had added money to the account.
"My mother is still alive, and my mother needs to continue living," Weston said.
The son called the police, because he claims there's no way the power of attorney document for his stepfather was legitimate.
"He was on morphine at the time," Gene Weston said.
According to a local police report, detectives interviewed several people and found Jorgensen's husband was "only taking a minimal dose of meds."
Police determined that Mr. Jorgensen "acted with his own free will" and ended their criminal investigation. However, these types of cases involving powers of attorney, often wind up in civil court. When people make a change to a power of attorney right before their death, it can raise concerns, especially when the person is elderly and on medication.
One thing that many people don’t know, is that they can limit the power of attorney document to protect a surviving spouse or family members.
It's important to carefully choose an agent and make certain that the power of attorney is properly notarized. You should select a person whom you trust, and whom you know will do the right thing for you, in case you can’t make your own decisions.
Despite her actions, the relative who withdrew the money maintains her innocence.
Reference: WPRI 12 (April 15, 2019) “Son questions power of attorney after mother's bank account is drained”