Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205
04/10/2015 01:30 PM HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES
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HB 8-POWERS OF ATTORNEY 1:39:39 PM CHAIR STEDMAN announced the consideration of HB 8. 1:39:47 PM REPRESENTATIVE SHELLEY HUGHES, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor of HB 8, related that the bill has approval by AARP and the Association of Mature Americans. She shared stories of financial scams that targeted vulnerable adults due to problems with the Power of Attorney. Last year there were more than 600 allegations of financial exploitation in Alaska as reported by Adult Protective Services, the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman, and the Office of Public Advocacy and Elder Fraud Unit. She shared statistics related to Power of Attorney abuse. She stated that HB 8 strengthens Alaska's existing Power of Attorney statutes by clarifying the responsibilities of the person receiving the Power of Attorney and approving the form itself. The statute remains customized for Alaska and aligns some of the wording with other states, which is helpful in this day and age. She noted new terminology in the bill - the principal, or the person granting the Power of Attorney, and the agent, the person who is granted the Power of Attorney. There is also a new definition for "signing." The current form instructs the principal to assign everything to the agent unless specifically crossing out items. The bill changes that so the principal must mark yes or no for every category. The bill separates out a special section of items deemed "hot powers," more significant than routine financial actions. There is a new section on judicial relief allowing a list of qualified persons who can petition the court to review the agent's conduct. There is also a new section about substitute decision-making documents, which allows for recognition of documents between states on a temporary basis. She concluded that HB 8 allows better definitions, clarifies areas of concern, and will help the principal make better decisions when it comes to assigning these important responsibilities of their finances and property to someone. She said the bill will strengthen existing statutes to better protect vulnerable adults and to better guide those who help care for them. GINGER BLAISDELL, Staff, Representative Shelley Hughes, Alaska State Legislature, explained the sectional analysis of HB 8 on behalf of the sponsor. She explained version N.A of the bill: Section 1 replaces the current definition of an "agent." Section 2 corrects the definition of "state" by including the United States Virgin Islands. Section 3 adds new definitions for "durable", "electronic", "power of attorney", "principal", "record", and "sign, as they pertain to the Act. Section 4 states that an agent is the person granted powers and the finances belong to the principal. It contains the agent's acceptance and liability and describes the agent's duties. It also pertains to the acceptance and termination of Power of Attorney. 1:50:49 PM Section 5 is amended to recognize a Power of Attorney executed in another state. Section 6 edits the actual form of the Power of Attorney (POA) and requires the principal to mark a box in each category and provides optional grant of specific authority to create, amend, revoke, or terminate a trust; make a gift; create or change beneficiaries; or revoke a transfer on a death deed. It also deals with how a notary can witness a signature. Section 7 adds additional optional provisions. 1:55:06 PM Section 8 deals with the applicability of provisions. CHAIR STEDMAN requested further clarification of Section 7 regarding the notary provision. REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES commented that the provision only applies to the notary's signing of this document. CHAIR STEDMAN said he has concerns about it. MS. BLAISDELL said that the notary provision was brought to attention by the Office of Public Advocacy. 1:56:34 PM She continued: Sections 9 - 11 removes the option to revoke, create, or modify a trust and includes it in a separate selection on the POA form. Section 12 allows the agent to use credit and debit cards, and electronic transactions. Section 13 adds additional responsibilities and clarification responsibilities of the agent to manage the affairs of the principal's businesses. 1:59:02 PM Section 14 provides for the exercise of investment powers available under a contract of insurance or annuity. Section 15 repealed section with respect to gifts and replaced with instructions regarding retirement plans. Section 16 amends the section regarding personal relationships, such as child support under HIPAA rules. Section 17 amends the section regarding government, military service, or civil service. 2:02:37 PM Section 18 is a new subsection that gives specific authority with respect to gift transactions. Section 19 is amended to relieve an agent of liability for breach of duty unless it was committed dishonestly. Section 20 replaces the term "disability or incompetence" to "incapacity." Section 23 addresses judicial relief and allows a number of people to petition the courts to review an agent's actions. 2:04:04 PM Section 27 deals with substitute decision-making documents between states. MS. BLAISDELL concluded that the statute was updated and definitions were brought current. HB 8 provides protection for vulnerable adults and judicial relief. CHAIR STEDMAN requested an update of the sectional analysis page numbers to version N.A. REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES noted that HIPAA is related to payment for health care services, not about making health care decisions. 2:06:14 PM CHAIR STEDMAN opened public testimony. 2:06:28 PM THERESA HOPE, State Long-term Care Ombudsman, testified in support of HB 8. She related that the Ombudsman frequently investigates cases in which family members or others misuse the POA document to exploit vulnerable adults, especially seniors. HB 8 clarifies and updates definitions in the statute and adds important protections. She spoke in favor of the changes made to the POA form. The bill also provides for judicial review when there is suspicion that the POA is being misused and clarifies when the document can be terminated. 2:08:53 PM DEBORAH BEHR, Chair, Alaska Uniform Law Commission, testified in support of HB 8. She noted that page 37, to the end of the bill, is a result of the open public process and is a uniform recognition of Substitute Decision-Making Documents across state lines. She provided an example. She spoke of the advantages of the POA document. 2:10:45 PM MARIE DARLIN, AARP of Alaska, testified in support of HB 8. She provided the history of the development of the bill. HB 8 continues the work that was started several years ago - the Advanced Directive bill. She said HB 8 is one more step in the right direction to help protect vulnerable adults. It is a way to try and correct some of the problems related to Power of Attorney. 2:13:03 PM DENISE DANIELLO, Executive Director, Alaska Commission on Aging, testified in support of HB 8. She said the bill is important in light of the increasing senior population. She especially liked the fact that the bill conforms to the Unified Power of Attorney Act and makes the law interstate compatible. She said she supports increasing the principal's control regarding decision making. She suggested that there be notification to the public to let them know of these changes. CHAIR STEDMAN closed public testimony. SENATOR GIESSEL thanked the sponsor. CHAIR STEDMAN held HB 8 in committee.