Senate Passes Greenleaf's Legislation Amending the State's Power of Attorney
Today, the Pennsylvania Senate approved Senator Greenleaf's
SB 1092, which would make changes to the State's powers of attorney law to
protect against abuse by those who hold power of attorney.
The Senator's bill would give courts more power to act if financial abuse is
suspected. It would require the signature of those granting power of attorney
to be acknowledged in the presence of a notary public. In addition, the bill
provides for a notification of the consequences of powers of attorney be issued
to those granting someone power of attorney.
The bill addresses the State Supreme Court decision in Vine v. Commonwealth.
In this case, a woman who suffered a stroke following an automobile accident,
while she was unable to speak or comprehend, was coerced into granting power of
attorney to her husband. The husband later selected a retirement option for her
that allowed him to make withdrawals and pay her less than the disability
retirement option. He later divorced her. The retirement system denied her
request to change her retirement plan to a disability option because they had
relied in good faith on what appeared to be a valid power of attorney. The
Supreme Court ruled that third parties, such as retirement systems or financial
institutions, can no longer rely on the validity of a power of attorney without
an investigation to confirm its legitimacy.
The requirement of Senator Greenleaf's legislation would protect third
parties from liability, by ensuring that powers of attorney are legitimately
executed. The legislation provides greater protection to principals in the
position of naming someone to handle their affairs.
The Senator said, "Many cases of elder financial abuse involve family members
or caregivers who hold power of attorney or have access to the person's assets.
Without making the process of gaining power of attorney too burdensome, this
legislation would provide significantly more protection against those who are
seeking to defraud the elderly. Recent cases in Pennsylvania have demonstrated
the need for more oversight for those who are being given power of attorney.
The elderly are highly vulnerable in these situations, and are too often taken