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What are common signs of power of attorney abuse?

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2023 | Estate Planning

A power of attorney grants one person the right to act as an agent on behalf of another, whom the law calls the “principal.” Unfortunately, cases occur where the agent abuses that authority.

In such instances, family and friends may be the principal’s only means to correct matters. Concerned individuals can watch for the following indications of abuse.

Neglect of the principal

An agent is not necessarily responsible for the principal’s care. However, agents have a duty to act in the principal’s interests. When an older or incapacitated person has an agent who does not maintain regular contact, the agent might be misusing that authority and not following the principal’s wishes.

Significant financial or care changes

A principal often requires the assistance of an agent because of a deteriorating health condition, disability or aging. These circumstances usually require more intensive treatment as time progresses, not less.

If loved ones notice the principal no longer receives certain care services, the agent may be making changes for personal financial benefit. Also, a drastic change in the principal’s financial accounts could indicate abuse or exploitation, which is a felony in Florida.

Suspicions might also arise if an agent is vague about finances. Families can have detailed discussions with agents about account activity to ensure there is no wrongdoing.

Sudden isolation from family and friends

An agent may try to hide abusive actions by denying loved ones the ability to visit or communicate with the principal. If the agent insists on being present during visits or constantly speaks for the principal, a family may need to take a closer look.

Challenging a power of attorney can be difficult because of the agent’s legal authority. Someone who suspects abuse must mount an airtight case to prevail.