Misuse of Power of Attorney: What it is and How to Identify it
When a person has an advanced healthcare directive, it basically means that they have put someone else in charge of all his or her major healthcare decisions should they become unable to make the decisions themselves. The person in charge is called a power of attorney. The point of an advanced healthcare directive is to ensure that a person’s wishes and beliefs are upheld in the event that they are unable to assert them themselves. For this reason, when a person drafts an advanced healthcare directive, it is imperative that they give the power to someone whom they trust and who knows his or her every last wish for every possible scenario.
Unfortunately, and though most people give careful thought and consideration to whom they put in a position of power, power can and does get abused. When this happens, it is referred to as a “misuse of enduring power of attorney,” and it usually entails the agent abusing his or her power to benefit themselves at the expense of the principal.
How to Identify the Misuse of Power
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell when a person is abusing his or her power. That said, the misuse of a healthcare power of attorney generally manifests itself in one of three ways:
- The agent makes a healthcare decision that benefits himself and that does not necessarily benefit the principal;
- The agent acts in a way that exceeds his authority; or
- The agent makes a decision that undermines the principal’s stated expectations, goals, or beliefs.
It can be difficult to identify the misuse of power without understanding medical jargon and the principal’s wishes and beliefs. However, a skilled Mobile estate planning attorney can investigate the circumstances leading up to the claims and determine if the agent did step out of lines in anyway.
When You Believe an Appointment is Being Abused
If you suspect that a loved one is being taken advantage of by their executive power of attorney, you should seek legal advice right away. There is not much that you can do on your own, but there is a whole lot you can do with an aggressive estate attorney on your side. An attorney can not only give you sound legal advice, but they can also help you do the following:
- Revoke the power of attorney;
- Stop any transfers of property;
- Revoke any arrangements that allow the abuse to occur such as bank signatory arrangements;
- Start any necessary court proceedings, such as those for the reversal of property transfer or to seek damages for harm already done; and
- Provide legal advice regarding the statute of limitations.
Though the misuse of power of attorney can happen to anyone, elder abuse and neglect may as described in the Protecting Alabama’s Elders Act can be cited as the reason for your claim, or even financial exploitation, if the agent’s reason for going against your loved one’s wishes was to obtain your loved one’s money or estate. To learn more about what laws may apply to your case, review the Code of Alabama, Title 38, Chapter 9E.
A Mobile Estate Attorney Recognizes the Signs of Misuse and Wants to Help
At Cloud Willis & Ellis, our Mobile estate planning lawyers are, unfortunately, very familiar with cases that deal with the misuse of power of attorney. We can recognize the signs from a mile away and help you put a stop to the abuse of power on your loved one’s behalf. If you are tired of seeing your loved one being taken advantage of, reach out to our legal team today. We can guide you towards the best possible remedies and hopefully help to reverse the damage that has already been done. Call our office to schedule a consultation today.