Can I get irrevocable POA over my brother who abuses drugs?

Dianemarie asked...

Can I get irrevocable POA over my brother? My brother who is 48 years old has a history of drug abuse. As of this moment he is clean and sober and is about to receive another portion of his inheritance from our step-father. At this moment he has agreed to give me power of attorney over his finances indefinately because when he received his last inheritance payment he spent it all on drugs. Is their anyway I can have an Irrevocable power of attorney in case he decides to go on a drug binge and wants to revoke it? He wants to protect himself from himself. I reside in Michigan and he resides in Florida.

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

The irrevocable powers of attorney you describe that give a person absolute authority to deal with another's property are rare.

Courts generally require that the person appointed to act must have an interest in some underlying property, so that if the power were revoked he or she "would be deprived of a substantial right." In real life, that means that such documents are usually confined to stock transfers and such in which those involved are related by blood or business. However, if you were likely to be legally entitled to take your stepfather’s property if he and your brother died, you may fit this legal description.

You could also consider going to court and petition to have you or another person become your brother's conservator, also called an adult guardian in some states. This legal proceeding would make you responsible for your brother's finances and prohibit your brother from regaining control of his affairs without the
consent of the court.

While this step is rather drastic, it may be the best way to provide complete protection. It will, however, mean presenting the court with evidence of how and why your brother needs such protection, which may be painful or embarrassing to both you and your brother. To find out more about the local procedures required to get a conservatorship or guardianship in place, contact the Florida court closest to where your brother now lives.