A power of attorney is supposed to be a trusted individual whom a testator appoints to carry out his or her wishes in the event of death or incapacity. This designation gives a person the power to open and close bank accounts, conduct financial transactions, make investments and buy and sell property on the testator’s behalf should the testator be unable to do so for him or herself. Because of the extent of power a POA grants a person, there are instances in Florida when that power becomes abused. HG.org provides a few examples of what abuse of a POA looks like.

One type of abuse of a POA is fraud. When fraud occurs, the power of attorney lies about the circumstances that prompted him or her to take certain action, or when the POA acts in a way that goes against the best interests of the testator. If fraud occurs, the testator and/or his or her family members may file a legal claim for damages.

Another type of abuse of power is conversion. Conversion occurs when the agent steals assets from the principal and uses said assets in a manner that is inconsistent with his or her rights of ownership. For a person or family to have a claim of conversion, the principal must prove that he or she demanded the return of the stolen assets and that the agent refused.

Breach of fiduciary duty is another common way agents abuse their power. Agents have a duty to act with the utmost care, diligence and loyalty, and must always strive to act in their principals’ best interests. If an agent violates these duties in any way — for instance, by self-dealing or depriving the principal of any benefit gained from a transaction — the principal and/or his or her family may file a claim for damages.

This article is not meant to serve as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.