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Is it a conflict of interest for someone's power of attorney to be on their will?

Seattle, WA |
Filed under: Professional ethics

An old friend Betty's (not real name) power of attorney is inheriting 75% on Betty's will. The POA is not a relative, and has over the years invested Betty's money and Betty's assets have increased to over $600,000. The POA does very little to improve Betty's living conditions. Betty has asked to redo her will and her POA says that Betty is too mentally confused to do so, which is true. Should I seek an ombudsman to intervene?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. The term you are looking for is "attorney in fact". The attorney in fact is the person holds the power of attorney and who generally looks after an incompetent person and sometimes is named personal representative in the AIP's will, and that person could additionally be a beneficiary, but your fact scenario is setting off alarm bells, especially if Betty is no longer competent. But how do you really know if the attorney in fact is correct, or not about Betty's incompetency? Is the attorney in fact also a medical doctor who is qualified to diagnose competency? It is also troublesome to read that the attorney in fact has not made arrangements for Betty to be comfortable in her surroundings and activities.

    You can contact Adult Protective Services. This is similar to Child Protective Services, but is for vulnerable adults. You can get to them on line starting from http://www.access.wa.gov They can investigate your concerns and help your friend. If you need private counsel, Margaret Dore is the best there is in Seattle for this sort of issue. Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell


  2. I agree with my colleague, make a referal to APS and let them sort it out., The added advantage is that APS usually will keep your name out of it.

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