Someone with power of attorney has legal authority to do things like sell someone's home and manage someone's medical needs, so it is important that whomever you appoint to this role is prepared to fill it responsibly.
Sadly, there are times when someone with POA, called an agent, takes advantage of this role. This can be devastating and leave the person who authorized the agent, called the principal, without the money and medical care they expected to have. Below are some signs that an agent is abusing his or her power of attorney.
- The principal is being neglected. Agents don't necessarily have an obligation to routinely check up on a principal, but they are expected to act in his or her best interests. If an agent isn't checking in with the principal regularly, he or she may not be fulfilling his or her duty.
- Critical care expenses are not covered. Lapsed payments and cancelled services can be a red flag that a fiduciary is not keeping up with financial obligations. It might also be an indication that money is being mismanaged and going toward something other than the principal's care.
- Significant changes are made to a principal's care or finances. If a principal is suddenly moved to a different care facility or stops receiving services like in-home assistance, there may be reason to question an agent's intentions. It could mean that he or she is making these changes for financial gain or to make it easier to abuse his or her power.
- You and other concerned parties are prohibited from visiting with or talking to the principal. If someone with power of attorney is making decisions that isolate the agent from family and friends, there may be reason to suspect that the principal is being prohibited from reaching out for help.
If you suspect that someone is abusing his or her powers of attorney, it is critical that you speak up and consider taking legal action to challenge a power of attorney. Doing so can put a stop to any abuses and hopefully minimize the damage suffered by a principal. For more information, you would be wise to consult an attorney.