One of the most daunting tasks for some people in their estate planning is choosing the right person to handle power of attorney responsibilities. When you designate power of attorney, you are granting another individual to act on your behalf for personal, legal and professional reasons. You can see how granting someone with this type of authority can be a risk.
Many times, the person who is issuing the power of attorney, called the principal, may be incapacitated due to health issues or age. This can heighten the chance of damages caused by the person who is granted the authority, called the agent. It is not uncommon for good people to do bad things, and it can be devastating for the principal. Not only has a trust been betrayed, but they can be out significant money and proper medical care.
There are ways to recognize and prevent abuse an agent can cause. Here are some signs to look for.
The principal is being neglected
If an agent is staying distant and not staying in contact with the principal, it can be a precursor for things to come. Especially if the agent is a close family member or child of the principal. Whenever an agent is keeping their distance from the principal and not checking-in regularly, they may not be properly fulfilling their duty.
Critical expenses not covered
If you notice that payments have lapsed, or certain services have been canceled, you may see this as a red flag. Keeping on top of financial obligations is an important role for the agent. When those duties are being neglected, it can be an indication that funds are being mis-managed.
Sudden changes to care or finances
If the principal is no longer receiving critical services like in-home care or is moved to another care facility, it is time to question the agent’s motives. These changes may be happening for financial gain or for the agent to get a better handle on abusing their power.
The principal is sequestered
When friends and family are not allowed to visit or speak with the principal, it could be that the agent is making decisions that are against the principals wishes
If you believe that power of attorney powers are being abused by an agent, you are able to take legal action to challenge their designation. Legal action may be your only recourse to put a stop to any abuse that may be going on.