Part of estate planning involves establishing a power of attorney (POA). A POA allows designated persons to make decisions on someone’s behalf, usually in times of disability or illness.
If you suspect someone is abusing their power as an agent, take action as soon as possible to protect your parent and ensure the abuse ceases.
Signs of POA abuse
Knowing the signs of POA abuse is the first step in identifying the issue to address. Red flags to watch out for include the agent withdrawing funds without consent, selling your parent’s property without authorization, refusing to provide financial records or purchasing new, expensive items for themselves. Also, pay attention if the agent does not check in with your parents regularly or if your parent’s care and their living situation suddenly change.
The next step is to gather evidence to support your claim that someone is abusing their POA. Discreetly collect copies of financial records and bank statements. Gather witness statements from those who can speak to the agent’s behavior. Keep track of any communication from the agent and any expensive changes to their lifestyle. Note if they attempt to change your parent’s will or other legal documents.
Revoke the POA
You can stop the abuse by helping your parent revoke the POA. It is vital that your parent has the capacity to do so and the revocation happens completely legally with the appropriate documentation. Inform the agent that they no longer have authority over your parent’s affairs.
Seeking guardianship means that a guardian appointed by a court will make decisions for your incapacitated parent. The guardian will supersede the powers of the agent acting through the POA.
Overall, several avenues exist for you to legally stop someone from abusing the power of attorney your parent granted them.