3 ways a power of attorney agent may abuse authority

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2017 | blog, Firm News

Many North Carolina residents have likely heard at some point about the benefits of having a power of attorney document. This document allows you to appoint an individual to attend to your financial needs should you lose the ability to do so yourself. Because you legally put someone else in charge of your finances, you certainly hope that the person will act in a trustworthy and responsible manner.

Unfortunately, not all power of attorney agents choose to approach their appointment with integrity. In fact, some parties may choose to take advantage of their position for personal gain or other unseemly outcomes. Of course, you may not know what constitutes an abuse of agent power.

Wrongful acts

The appointment of power of attorney agents concerns many individuals as they believe it could put vulnerable parties at risk. In fact, some people consider naming a power of attorney agent as giving an individual a “license to steal.” While not all agents abuse their power, some parties could participate in wrongful actions, such as:

  • Neglecting care expenses – One of the main duties an agent has relates to ensuring that necessary care expenses for the incapacitated individual remain paid. If outstanding balances begin to accrue, other loved ones may become suspicious. In some cases, rather than attending to your expenses, the agent could potentially use your money to make purchases for him or herself.
  • Taking on unauthorized power – Though you have the ability to detail the terms of your power of attorney appointment and give only the power you see fit, an agent could possibly abuse his or her station by carrying out acts without authorization. For instance, he or she could gift property or other assets to outside parties, though you may not have given him or her authority to do so.
  • Presenting a fraudulent document – An untrustworthy individual may have even gone so far as to forge a power of attorney document in order to gain control of your finances.

Though determining the amount of power of attorney abuse that occurs has proven difficult, this unfortunate scenario does take place. As a result, you may wonder about your options for avoiding the possibility of becoming a victim of abuse.

Naming an agent

Because having a power of attorney document in place can give you some control rather than having the court name an individual, appointing an agent can still prove useful. Therefore, you may wish to give your agent candidates careful consideration and ensure that you name a person you trust wholeheartedly.