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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: December 11, 2013 08:49 AM
From: Representative Ryan A. Bizzarro
To: All House members
Subject: Elder Abuse – Powers of Attorney (POA)
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would amend Title 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to provide for the seizure of discoverable evidence relative to a power of attorney’s financial transactions on behalf of an incapacitated individual. In addition, my legislation would insert a warning into the acknowledgement section of a power of attorney document that a failure to comply with the agent’s directives listed in the document may result in criminal charges against the agent.

Many of our elderly citizens who are plagued with dementia and other mentally debilitating infirmities rely on the good will of others to assist them with their financial responsibilities, and as such, grant the power of attorney to a competent adult. Unfortunately, some of these agents abuse their authority as power of attorney and misappropriate the principal’s funds. Under current law, the Power of Attorney Acknowledgement does not include a warning that failure to comply with the agent’s directives listed throughout the document could result in criminal charges against the agent. According to Montour County District Attorney Rebecca Warren, individuals who are guilty of theft via POA tend to claim that they were unaware of the criminal nature of their acts. My legislation would eliminate that excuse as all future Power of Attorney Acknowledgements would include the warning that agents must follow the document’s directives or face criminal prosecution.

In addition, my legislation would make it easier for the Office of Protective Services and local aging agencies to secure discoverable evidence as it relates to financial transactions conducted by an agent on behalf of a principal. Current law does not include the ability to petition the court to secure such documentation if an older adult is unable to provide their consent because of their incapacitation. Sadly, many agents have taken financial advantage of individuals they have sworn to assist, and therefore, we need to make it easier for the financial abuse to be discovered by the Office of Protective Services and local aging agencies.

I urge you to join me in protecting one of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable populations. Thank you!

Introduced as HB2007