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When a POA Transfers Assets Against Your Parent’s Wishes

StachlerHarmon Attorneys at Law July 21, 2022

A power of attorney (POA) remains a vital estate planning tool that allows a person to name an agent who will act on their behalf in crucial financial, property, or health matters when they become unavailable or unable to do so. Unfortunately, some agents abuse their power and make decisions that are not in the principal’s best interests.

If a power of attorney or an agent transfers assets against your parent’s wishes, consulting with an experienced Ohio probate and estate planning attorney is crucial for detailed guidance. At StachlerHarmon Attorneys at Law, we are committed to offering knowledgeable legal guidance and reliable advocacy to clients in estate administration, probate, and powers of attorney-related matters.

As your legal counsel, we can evaluate the surrounding facts of your case and determine how the agent abused their power. Our attorneys will fight diligently to protect your family’s best interests and take necessary legal action against the agent. StachlerHarmon Attorneys at Law is proud to serve clients across Dayton, Miamisburg, Warren, Clark County, Greene County, Preble County, and Butler County, Ohio.

The Role of a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is a written document that grants certain legal authority and powers to a trusted person. Under Ohio law, a power of attorney allows a person (the principal) to appoint another person (an agent or attorney-in-fact) who can make property, financial, or health decisions and perform specific duties on the principal’s behalf when they’re unable or unavailable to make such decisions on their own. The attorney-in-fact will be granted the legal authority and power to perform any action indicated in the legal document.

Power of Attorney Abuse

Power of attorney abuse occurs when an agent misuses the authority and powers granted to them by the principal. This usually involves taking actions or making decisions that are against the principal’s best interests. Examples of power of attorney abuse include transferring assets against the principal’s wishes, stealing money, or using the principal’s money for personal gain.

Types of Abuse

The different types of power of attorney abuse include:

Breach of Fiduciary Duty: The agent has a fiduciary duty to act diligently and with extreme care. They must act in the principal’s best interests and in accordance with their wishes. A breach of fiduciary duty occurs when an attorney-in-fact violates or fails to perform their expected duty.

Conversion: Conversion occurs when an agent steals from the principal or uses the principal’s assets in a way that isn’t consistent with the principal’s rights.

Fraud: Fraud occurs when an agent deceives the principal with promises of goods, services, or financial benefits which don’t exist. It also involves the improper or illegal use of the principal’s property or funds.

Elder Abuse: Elder abuse involves taking advantage of a vulnerable older adult. This may include physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse, financial exploitation, abandonment, or neglect.

A skilled attorney can explore your options to limit or revoke a power of attorney, seek legal claims, or take additional legal action against the agent to recover damages.

Limiting or Revoking a POA

When preparing the POA document, an attorney can help mitigate POA abuse from happening by putting certain clauses in place. This includes:

  • Writing a POA document that restricts the authority or duty afforded to the agent

  • Allowing third parties to exercise some oversight over the agent’s actions

However, if the POA abuse has already occurred, it can be stopped by revoking a power of attorney, provided that the agent still has legal capacity. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process involved in limiting or revoking a POA document.

Turn to Knowledgeable Legal Guidance

An agent or attorney-in-fact has a fiduciary duty to act in the principal’s best interest in all matters. Unfortunately, some agents may act out of line and commit fraud, transfer assets, or steal funds belonging to the principal. If you suspect power of attorney abuse, you may be eligible to take legal action and pursue damages. An experienced estate planning attorney can help preserve your parent’s legal rights and mitigate additional financial loss.  

At StachlerHarmon Attorneys at Law, our attorneys have the diligence, resources, and experience to assist and guide clients in complex estate planning matters involving power of attorney abuse. As your legal counsel, we can investigate every aspect of your case thoroughly and strategize an effective approach to revoke the POA and pursue available legal claims. In addition, our skilled legal team will fight compassionately to protect your family’s best interests and attempt to recover any stolen funds and assets.

Contact StachlerHarmon Attorneys at Law today to schedule a simple case assessment with skilled power of attorney lawyers. Our trusted legal team can offer you the personalized legal counsel, advocacy, and reliable representation you need in your POA abuse case. We’re proud to serve clients across Dayton, Miamisburg, Warren, Clark County, Greene County, Preble County, and Butler County, Ohio.