3 Keys to Protect Your Assets From Greedy Heirs

Some common estate-planning tactics could leave you vulnerable.

A well-thought-out estate plan could save your family thousands of dollars in taxes and protect your financial interests if you become incapacitated. But some widely used estate-planning tactics make it easy for unscrupulous family members or financial advisers to pick your pocket.

Power of attorney for finances. A durable power of attorney for finances gives a spouse, adult child or other person you designate the authority to manage your money if you're unable to handle your affairs, without the hassle of going to court. In the right hands, it will protect your financial interests, says Sally Hurme, an elder-law lawyer for AARP. But in the wrong hands, she says, it's a license to steal.

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Sandra Block
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Block joined Kiplinger in June 2012 from USA Today, where she was a reporter and personal finance columnist for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she worked for the Akron Beacon-Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. In 1993, she was a Knight-Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a BA in communications from Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.