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Improved Power of Attorney Bill Advances at SD Legislature

South Dakota lawmakers are considering a bill to make local power-of-attorney laws more consistent with other states. (wwcares.org)
South Dakota lawmakers are considering a bill to make local power-of-attorney laws more consistent with other states. (wwcares.org)
February 19, 2018

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota's Power of Attorney document would match more closely those adopted in 25 other states if approved by the state Legislature this week.

The document is especially important for seniors who want to designate a trusted friend or relative to look after their affairs should they lose the mental or physical capacity to do it themselves.

Rapid City Republican state Rep. David Lust is a bill sponsor and says South Dakota's Power of Attorney document has not been updated in more than 100 years.

Since that time, Lust says people's lifestyles have changed and they need to know the document will be upheld wherever they happen to be living.

"Having the comfort that your power of attorney in South Dakota is good and enforceable and accepted under the laws of Arizona or Florida or California is very important," he states.

AARP supports the legislation, noting that many seniors need help handling financial affairs, such as bill paying and investment management after an accident or illness leaves them unable to do it themselves.

Lust says South Dakota's Elder Abuse Task Force reviewed the new legislation to make sure it was compliant with the organization's policies and will strengthen existing laws that safeguard against neglect and exploitation.

"Then, the overarching issue is just to make sure that we've got protections in place for the elderly to prevent abuse, as we've seen in the past," he adds.

By one estimate, older Americans lose up to $30 billion a year to elder financial abuse because of misappropriation of their money by con artists, thieves or even trusted friends or family members.

AARP says crimes involving power of attorney often go unreported because victims are embarrassed to speak up or are unable to do so.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD