On June 1, 2017, AARP DC volunteer, Phyllis Pricer delivered testimony to the District of Columbia Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety in support of amending the Uniform Power of Attorney Amendment Act of 2017 (UPOAA).
Multiple national studies have found that financial exploitation of seniors is the most common and one of the most under-reported types of elder abuse. Financial exploitation can occur from trusted people, like family members and friends.
Some of the individuals or institutions most entrusted with the finances of others are agents who have “Power of Attorney” over other individuals. A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document used by an individual to name someone else to make financial decisions and act on the principal’s behalf.
The UPOAA in the District of Columbia has not been updated in fifteen years, and the proposed amendments would strengthen consumer protections. Furthermore it would clarify what constitutes a valid execution of POA, provide a third party with discretion to investigate suspected violations of an agent’s fiduciary duty under a POA, establish a process for collecting damages related to an agent’s wrongdoing and outline procedures for termination of POA.
Ms. Pricer’s testimony focused on how the current provisions give those with a POA a “license to steal” with no legal ramifications based on her experience and the experience of her acquaintances.
She noted, “AARP DC does not want District residents to be harmed by utilizing a POA under the UPOAA. We should have a way to feel protected even when we think we can trust others with our most personal business – our assets. We need a watchdog and that watchdog can be something as simple as a law that gives people protection and encourages them to trust others as they seek assistance.”
AARP DC will push for a committee markup of the UPOAA updates this year. For the latest information about this issue and other advocacy priorities, please follow AARP DC on Facebook!