A bill to adopt more stringent consumer protections against power of attorney fraud passed through the 2009 legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Jim Gibbons. The bill could mean real peace of mind for older Nevadans.
A power of attorney is a legal document used by an individual to empower another to act on their behalf, often aimed at allowing the appointed agent to act when an older person no longer can. As the population ages, the power of attorney will be used with increasing frequency to appoint trusted family members or others to handle financial decision-making — but it can also be a “license to steal” because it grants broad powers without any oversight or clear standards for agent conduct
Older adults are disproportionately affected by the fraudulent use of financial powers of attorney and will benefit from additional consumer protections.
Nevada state laws lacked protections for individuals creating financial powers of attorney, according to report produced by AARP’s Public Policy Institute. In fact, the Nevada statute addressing powers of attorney was so vague that it caused problems for those who chose to set up a power of attorney.
Nevada banks often refused to accept powers of attorney due to the inadequacy of the former power of attorney statute. This left those incapable of making financial decisions without the assistance they sought when they gave power of attorney to their designee, and often forced the state to get involved.
During the 2009 legislative session, State Sen. Bernice Matthews sponsored the bill (SB314) which added consumer protection provisions from the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, a model law that lays the groundwork for keeping older adults safe from financial fraud, while allowing them to plan for the future. AARP Nevada supported this bill through testimony and advocacy with its grassroots activists and members.
The passing of the bill means that there will be better oversight of appointed power of attorney agents and clear standards for those agents to follow. More legal protections will also be in place for those who need to appoint a power of attorney.