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My husband and his son went behind my back to try to give his son power of attorney. If something were to happen to my husband, would my step-son have a say about any of our property? In other words, how can I be harmed by his son having power of attorney?

For those who didn't see OPs response to mine, she has an appt with an elder lawyer.

Suggestion, set your page to "Newest first". I think updates tend to be missed when set at oldest first.
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gladimhere Oct 1, 2021
Some/most people just reply without readings previous responses. We certainly see plenty of that.
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not to add to the possible complications...but in many states there are 2 forms used to designate who will be a decision maker for a person who is unable (for whatever reason) to make decisions.
One document addresses health care decision making. And should have an alternative choice. Often this is spouse first, and then an adult child/family member who is significantly younger than the person who they will make decisions for. Health care proxy, living will, etc.
The other document is to manage the property ( Real estate, financial assets, personal possessions of value) is the other document. I believe you are referring to this sort of document..and yes, get a lawyers advice. Ideally this document is done as part of joint estate planning. This can be springing (to take effect on a designated date or event such as MD saying he cannot make abstract decisions) or durable (takes effect when signed.)
The fact that this was done with great secrecy is a big red flag. Don't rely on verbal statements, impressions, or assumptions. Signed notarized documents are the key to identifying who can do what.
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Reply to Clairesmum
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Big time. First red flag: “secretive”

He can move money into private accounts with dads name and his name - and not yours. If you have a joint account with hubby, he could drain your savings because you and hubby have equal rights to take out money.

If he gets dad to sign a revised will/insurance policies, he could be the sole beneficiary. If you and hubby co-own your house and he inherits half, he could force you to but him out or sell the property. If hubby owns the house and son inherits all, you have nothing.

I’d get legal advice. Pronto.
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Reply to Erikka
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It depends on the type of power of attorney. If it covers financial, then your step-son can act in any way financially on behalf of your husband. If your name is on the property as an owner or co-owner, he can not sell it out from underneath you. I would suggest looking at all property you own with your husband and make sure your name is on it as well as his - that includes vehicles.
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Unless things are in joint names then you could be left with nothing and no support. Why would your husband do this behind your back - was he pressurised by his son (possible elder abuse) or does he not care what happens to you.
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This site is for caregiver support by other caregivers. It is not a legal advice site. You need to do planning with an elder law attorney.

My mom was in her second marriage and both her and her husband had their own children as POA. So, this isn't unusual. If the properties are in both of your names the son may try to get you to sign for a sale. But, he cannot make you. You night have to be really strong. Don't go borrowing trouble. Try to relax until you know more.
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While I don't know the legality of this answer, I believe property is community property - half yours and half his - unless other specific contractual arrangements have been made
OR
depends on if he owned the property outright before marrying you and what arrangements were made.
I would suggest that you talk to an attorney. No one really knows better than an attorney as while some situations are foundational, I believe each couple has uniquely personal details that only you - and an attorney (and your husband perhaps) need to clarify.

I am curious if something triggered you 'now' to ask us this question?

Gena / Touch Matters

p.s. Touch really does matter, I am a massage therapist. Touch gets the oxytocin - the 'feel good' hormones activated. Hug, give a foot or hand massage, a shoulder rub. It can change your body's chemistry for the better (in most cases).
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The POA is invalid at his death so if hubby dies IMMEDIATELY notify any banks, insurance, investments, pension etc. The Federal government and VA do not recognize a POA which is a state issued document.
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Isthisrealyreal Sep 30, 2021
The problem isn't after death, it's the changes that can be implemented before death, such as change of beneficiary, POD added, etc.
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It all depends on the wording in the POA. My sibling had my mom’s written up to give him complete control over everything and to even use her money for legal fees etc.

I would be very concerned if I were you…..you need to protect yourself.
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If you share accounts, your stepson as husband's POA could clean out all accounts, leaving you to try and get it back.

Just one way that you could be injured by this appointment.

That it was done on the sly raises red flags and you should consult an attorney to protect yourself.

I am utterly offended that the man you are caring for would put you at risk. I would reconsider what I would be willing to provide for him if he hasn't ensured that you are fully protected as his spouse in the event of his death.

Best of luck and I hope this was not done with malicious intent.
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Thank you all for your input - I wouldn't have thought anything if he had approached both of us, but I happened to see a text from the son that made me question him.

I have made an appointment with an elder law attorney to find out how to protect myself.
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JoAnn29 Sep 30, 2021
Good for you.
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I agree with JoAnn that it is important for you to see an Elder Law Attorney regarding this question. The son, as POA, were your husband incompetent, could decide whether he be placed in a nursing home, or allowed to remain at home. Many decisions could be made that would impact your finances. I would be important to know how to do a division of assets at that time to protect your own assets within the marriage. This will also take matter out of your hands as regards your husband's care in many ways, and it is best to learn from an attorney what repercussions this decision may have. You could, of course, apply as your husband's guardian. This would override a POA and protect his assets, giving you choices over how his care is rendered, where, and by whom. Do see an attorney. It is important that you know the possibilities in your own state.
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I would see an elder lawyer. You need to protect what is rightfully yours. Depends on your State laws but you may be entitled to half of everything. Most of our investments are in my husbands name but I am his beneficiary. He is mine on my IRA. My girls only inherit when both of us are gone. So find out how things are set up. I would not put stepson on the bank account you and husband share. I may even have my SS sent to a different account.

Stepson can only step in if husband is incompetent. If you are competent, don't know where that leaves you thats why I would consult with a lawyer. Get urself a POA to protect u.
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MargaretMcKen Sep 28, 2021
It's not completely correct that 'Stepson can only step in if husband is incompetent'. For example, I had POAs for each of my daughter when they were overseas and needed some local transactions, but they certainly weren't incompetent. People can also mix up divorce entitlements and intestate (no will) estate divisions with other rights. Good advice to see the lawyer and check what this document actually says.
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This is just to repeat and perhaps expand JKM’s helpful answer.

Your husband can only give his son POA for his own affairs, not for yours. You would have to execute a POA yourself for anyone to be able to act on your behalf. This means it depends a lot on how finances work presently with your husband. If all the assets are owned by your husband, you may be at as much ‘risk’ from your husband right now as you would be from his son in the future. If your marriage is not giving you confidence, it would be good to get legal advice about how to protect yourself, straight away.

It’s true that it’s a good idea not to use people your own age as Executors of wills or as POA donees, because there is every chance that they won’t be any help when both of you are at the age when help is needed. It’s also true that ‘step’ relationships can cause problems – eg if husband’s children have always seen you as a gold-digger, and both you and they want to inherit husband’s whole estate.

We regularly have questions from people who mix up POAs with Guardianship. If your stepson was your Guardian, he would have huge powers. However there is no suggestion that he is seeking that, or would have any chance of it being awarded by a court. POAs powers depend a lot on the wording of the document. Perhaps it would be good for all of you to look at the document and get joint legal advice to explain what it means in practice and in your circumstances.

There is no need to assume the worst now, but it’s important that you all understand what is happening.
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There are a few types of Power of Attorney, the most common type being a Durable Power of Attorney which designates the person act on the granter's behalf and in their best interest even after the granter becomes incapacitated. It's important that this be a trustworthy individual and that they fully understand the granter's wishes. You say that they "went behind my back to try to give his sone power of attorney". Are you concerned that your step-son isn't trustworthy? or that he would do something that could financially harm you? In that case, you need to discuss this with your husband because as power of attorney he will be the one to execute and/or make financial decisions in your husband's name and in his interest and is not obligated to make decisions in your interest. I am the POA for my father and am obligated to make decisions in his best interest. It also means that I must keep good records of income and expenses so that should it ever be questioned I can show that I have done what is best for him and that I have not profited. It's not a bad thing to have someone other than a spouse as power of attorney as we age but you do need to have trust in the person and that they fully understand the wishes of the granter.
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