There is some good work being done at the University of Iowa. No, I am not talking about the Hawkeye's basketball victory over the Badgers on Thursday night, although I was happy to see it. I am talking about the 13-week Elder Law Colloquium, "The Aging Population, Alzheimer's and Other Dementias: Law & Public Policy," sponsored by Professor Josephine Gittler and the National Health Law and Policy Resource Center at the University of Iowa College of Law.
Professor Gittler is a national expert on many areas of health law and has for years been an advocate for children and health. She has now lent her considerable scholarship and expertise to organizing this series. The colloquium will include the following topics:
- Health Care and End of Life Surrogate Decision-Making
- Legal Needs of the Aging Population and the Practice of Elder Law
- Legal and Clinical Approaches to Determination of Diminished Capacity
- Elder Abuse and Neglect and Financial Exploitation of the Elderly
- Long Term Care Financing and Family Caregiving
- Governmental Regulation of Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
I was lucky enough to attend yesterday's session on Financial Powers of Attorney. The speaker was Linda S. Whitton, JD, Professor of Law at Valparaiso University School of Law. Professor Whitton has been very instrumental in drafting a Uniform State Law governing financial powers of attorney.
That Uniform Act is a guide that states can use when looking to implement legislation to protects individuals from financial abuse, theft and fraud. Iowa's statute needs to be updated to provide more financial protection for individuals with diminished capacity.
Current Iowa law on powers of attorney, Iowa Code Chapter 633B, has a very limited scope. It specifies that powers of attorney can continue to be effective after the principal's disability (which was not the case before the statute was passed), provides protection for banks, other financial institutions and purchasers if they rely on the presence of a power of attorney to complete a transaction, and provides for notice of revocation of a power of attorney. It does not specify authority an agent should or may be given, does not authorize any sort of mechanism to authorize an interested party to receive an accounting, or provide other protections to the principal and the principal's estate of the power once the grantor is incapacitated.
My name is Margaret Van Houten and I practice in the areas of wills, trusts, estate planning and probate law, taxation, charitable organizations, and employee benefits.