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What can one do when powers of attorney are being misused?

Naming a personal representative to handle one's affairs when needed can be a challenging decision. Will this power go to a parent, an adult child, one's spouse or a close friend? This is a very personal decision, one that every person will treat differently. What happens, though, if after the decision is made, that trusted individual turns out not to be so trustworthy? Do California laws allow for powers of attorney be terminated?

This is a sad reality that is faced by countless individuals. No one wants to believe that their acting agent will take advantage of them, but it does happen. If the principal -- owner of the power of attorney -- or his or her loved ones feel that the agent is misusing his or her authority, there are things that they can do to stop it. These are:

  • Call Adult Protective Services to report the abuse
  • File the necessary legal document to have the agent's authority terminated
  • Create a new power of attorney

At the end of the day, a person who is designated as an agent in a power of attorney is not free to do whatever he or she pleases. There are limitations to his or her power. These limits are put in place to protect the principal and his or her assets.

When assigning powers of attorney, one is hopeful that the designated agent will not mistreat his or her position. If it turns out that the agent is taking actions that only benefit him or herself and not the principal, one does not just have to sit by and let it continue. An experienced estate planning attorney can assist California residents in not only seeking the termination of existing powers of attorney, but in creating new ones when possible.

Source: mysanantonio.com, "How to reclaim control from rogue agent", Paul Premack, April 17, 2017

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