If a person is power of attorney of their grandfather, can they give themselves gifts?

Q: Co-worker has power of attorney over his grandfather’s finances. Since then he has spent over $400,000 on buying himself vehicles, a boat, property, and other personal items on himself. The grandfather is being kept in nursing home. We are wondering if he can legally use the money this way, while his grandfather is still alive. (Bethel Park, PA)

A: It does not sound right as there is a strong duty for the agent to only act in the best interests of the principal. However, if the POA document states in writing the Agent can make gifts to himself, then it may be permissible. However, even if the agent is authorized to make gifts to himself, he may be liquidating funds that might be needed in the future to maintain adequate health care. This would be a violation of his fiduciary duties. Such spending may also jeopardize the uncle’ eligibility to receive Medicaid funding if he ever needs it. Therefore, even if gifts to himself are permitted, he would not be acting in the interests of the principal by diminishing the principal’s liquid assets. If you want to get involved, you may want to call Adult Protective Services to assess the situation.

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