Avoiding Power of Attorney Abuse and Protecting an Estate
A Cincinnati power of attorney lawyer can provide help in creating a power of attorney (POA). We can also provide guidance in situations where the authority granted under a power of attorney is being abused. A power of attorney can be a very powerful legal tool that provides important protection for the creator of the POA and for his or her assets. However, there is also the serious potential for abuse, and steps must be taken to avoid this abuse at all costs.
Zimmer Law Firm has extensive experience providing assistance with the creation of a power of attorney. We understand how Ohio laws work to protect those creating a POA and we can assist you in making informed choices as you create your grant of authority to an agent. We can also offer representation when problems arise. Give us a call at 513.721.1513 to find out more about the ways in which an experienced Cincinnati power of attorney lawyer can help you.
Understanding Power of Attorney Abuse
A power of attorney is a legal grant of authority. The person who creates the POA is called the principal. The principal authorizes another person, who is designated as an agent or attorney in fact, to act on behalf of the principal. The agent could have limited authority in a limited POA or could be given general authority if a general power of attorney is created. If the power of attorney is durable, this authority lasts after the principal is incapacitated. As a result, a durable POA is a very powerful part of an incapacity plan.
Because of the extent of the power granted to an agent by a durable power of attorney, there is great potential for abuse. Agents are held to a fiduciary duty, which is the highest duty under the law, and they are expected to act within the best interests of the principal. Sometimes, however, they fail to do so. As the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports, this is a crime, but it happens all the time.
NCEA described one of many instances of power of attorney abuse. The case involved an 85-year-old who named her daughter as her agent. Her daughter used the authority given to her under the durable POA to sell the mother’s house. She put the money from the home sale into the mother’s bank accounts, but withdrew the money over the course of a year to support her lifestyle and to support her fruitless and unsuccessful business endeavors. Her mother, upon discovering the loss of the funds, went to the police but was told she had to make a civil claim. Unable to find help in recovering her money, she lost all hope and she died just six weeks later.
This type of tragic incident happens all the time, and although police should investigate power of attorney abuse, sometimes law enforcement is not aware of how to deal with this type of criminal situation. Those who are creating a POA should talk with a Cincinnati power of attorney lawyer for help in trying to make certain this outcome does not happen. Victims of abuse of power of attorney, including family members who would otherwise have potentially inherited from a principal if POA abuse had not drained the estate, should seek appropriate legal help.
Why it is Important to Take Action When Power of Attorney Abuse Occurs
If an agent acting under the authority of a power of attorney steals money from the principal, the principal suffers because of lost financial security and loss of quality of life. The opportunity for the principal to leave a legacy could also be lost because the money which was supposed to make up the estate could be squandered and misused by the agent.
If the principal is not able to act to protect his or her own interests, family members who see power of attorney abuse should consult with a Cincinnati power of attorney lower to find out what legal remedies are available for pursuing a civil action for breach of fiduciary duty. By making a claim against the agent, it should be possible to stop the abuse and potentially to recover the misappropriated funds that should belong to the principal and which one day could make up a part of the principal’s estate.
Getting Legal Help from a Cincinnati Power of Attorney Lawyer
To find out more about how a Cincinnati power of attorney lawyer can assist with creating a power of attorney, choosing an agent, and stopping POA abuse, join us for a free seminar or give us a call at 513.721.1513 to speak with a member of our legal team.