Power of attorney is an important and necessary role that should not be taken lightly. Sometimes, an individual does not have the capacity—mental or physical—to continue managing her or his own affairs. In such cases, appointing somebody to take over power of attorney can ensure that the individual is still cared for and that person's needs are met. Unfortunately, however, power of attorney can be abused.
It is sad to think that somebody might take advantage of a vulnerable individual, but this is sometimes the case when a person is given power of attorney. If you suspect that this is happening, you should pay attention to the following three signs and seek out legal counsel for further guidance on recourse.
1. Neglecting the principal
When a person is granted power of attorney, he or she is called the agent and the individual in her or his care is known as the principal. The parameters of an agent's responsibility depend on the principal's general wellness and capacity, so it is not always necessary that the agent acts as a literal caregiver. If the agent makes little effort to communicate and collaborate with the principal, though, that person may be abusing power.
2. Failing to cover expenses
An agent with power of attorney will typically be tasked with handling the principal's financial affairs. Part of this includes covering major expenses and ensuring that the person has everything needed. If these expenses are not being covered, it can be symptomatic of an agent's financial manipulation or neglect. This should be cause for concern if there is not a valid reason for the change.
3. Principal is being isolated
According to The Arc, people with power of attorney sometimes extend their control past a principal's financial affairs and start controlling his or her personal life, too. The individual might gradually isolate the principal or otherwise prevent friends and family from interacting with that person. This can conceal abuse and make it difficult for a principal to get help. If agents are being unnecessarily controlling, they may be abusive.