How Do You Prove Power Of Attorney Abuse?

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“Essentially, a power of attorney grants a person or organization the authority to act on behalf of another person, the principal, in making decisions about their property, finances, and personal affairs.”

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How Do You Prove Power Of Attorney Abuse?

A POA is a powerful tool that can be used to manage the affairs of an individual who cannot do so themselves, whether due to illness, disability, or absence. There is no doubt that this authority can be abused, and when it is, it can have serious consequences for the principal. This article discusses How Do You Prove Power Of Attorney Abuse and why an attorney is necessary in such cases.


What is Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal agreement that grants a person named”the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” the power to make decisions on behalf of a person, also known by the name of “principal.” 

This authority can cover various aspects of the principal’s life, including healthcare, financial, and legal issues. While POA is a vital instrument in governing affairs, it could also open the possibility of abuse if handled with care.


Duties of a Power of Attorney Agent

The person who signs the Power of Attorney is referred to as”the “principal”, and the person they designate to act for them is referred to as”the “agent”. Agents have a fiduciary responsibility, that is, a responsibility to act in the best interests of the primary.

Here are some of the tasks of an agent

  • The primary reason for any activities they take part in.
  • Maintaining precise records of all financial transactions made by the principal.
  • Only acting for an individual in particular powers as specified on the Power of Attorney document.
  • Separating the property of the agent and separate from that of the owner.
  • Beware of conflicts of interest, for example, self-dealing transactions.

If the principal dies or cancels their Power of Attorney, the agent cannot continue in the same capacity.


What is Power of Attorney Abuse?

Power of attorney abuse occurs when the agent or attorney-in-fact misuses their authority to act on behalf of the principal. This can take many forms, including Financial exploitation, which involves using the principal’s money or assets for personal gains.

Coercion: This involves pressuring the principal into making decisions that are not in their best interests.

Neglect: This involves failing to manage the principal’s affairs properly.

Unauthorized Actions: This involves taking actions that the principal did not allow.


Proving Power of Attorney Abuse

How to prove power of attorney? Proving the power of attorney abuse can be difficult, as the burden of proof lies with the accuser. However, several steps can be taken to gather evidence and build a case:


Gather Documentation:

The first step in proving the power of attorney abuse is to gather all relevant documentation, including:

  • The power of attorney agreement,
  • Bank statements,
  • And other financial records.

This documentation can provide valuable evidence of any unauthorized transactions or other suspicious activity.


Observe the Principal:

If possible, observe the principal’s behavior and physical condition. Look for signs of neglect or coercion, such as missed medical appointments or unexplained bruises.


Interview Witnesses:

Interview anyone with information about the situation. They may have observed the agent’s behavior or have other relevant information.


Hire an Attorney:

It is important to get the help of an attorney specializing in elder law or estate planning. They can guide the legal aspects of the case and help gather evidence.


Report to Authorities:

If there is evidence of abuse, it is important to report it to the appropriate authorities.


Types of Power of Attorney Abuse cases

A power of attorney can help manage one’s affairs. Here are some common types of power of attorney abuse cases: Financial abuse is perhaps the most common type of power of attorney abuse. An agent may use their access to the principal’s financial accounts and assets to steal money or make unauthorized transactions.


Medical neglect:

A medical power of attorney allows a representative to care for a principal. However, some agents may neglect the principal’s medical needs or decide against the principal’s wishes. This can be particularly harmful if the principal cannot advocate for themselves due to illness or disability.


Emotional abuse:

An agent may use their power to isolate the principal from friends and family. They may manipulate or intimidate the principal, making them feel afraid or vulnerable.


Identity theft:

An unscrupulous agent may use the principal’s personal information to open credit accounts, take out loans, or engage in other forms of identity theft. This can have serious financial and legal consequences for the principal.


Real estate fraud:

A real estate power of attorney allows an agent to buy, sell, or manage the principal’s property. However, some agents may use this power to fraudulently transfer the property to themselves/a third party. They may also use the power to take out loans against the property.


Legal claims

Legal claims can arise in this context, and individuals must act quickly to preserve their rights and mitigate potential financial consequences. Breach of fiduciary duty is one possible legal claim when power of attorney deteriorates.


Legal claims.


By creating a power of attorney, a fiduciary relationship exists between the principal and the agent, with the agent owing the principal a duty to act with the utmost care and diligence. State law establishes the various duties the agent owes to the principal, including:

  • Keeping the principal informed of financial information that may affect them,
  • Notifying the principal of self-dealing
  • Depriving a personal benefit from transactions
  • And prohibiting self-dealing on the principal’s property.

If the agent violates these duties, the principal can sue for breach of fiduciary duty.



Another possible legal claim is conversion, which asserts that the agent has stolen from the principal. Litigating this type of case typically requires showing that the agent used the principal’s property in a manner inconsistent with the principal’s rights of ownership.

Additionally, the principal may have a duty to demand the return of their property, and if the agent refuses to return it, a lawsuit may be filed. The above examples illustrate some examples of power of attorney abuse cases that can occur. Choosing a trustworthy agent and clearly defining their powers’ scope in the power of attorney document is important to prevent abuse.

It’s also a good idea to review the document periodically and to revoke the power of attorney if there are any concerns about the agent’s behaviour. Finally, seeking legal advice is important if you suspect power of attorney abuse.


How do we prevent abuse of the power of attorney?

A power of attorney can be a valuable tool in managing an individual’s affairs, and it can also be a source of abuse if the agent acts improperly. The following steps can help you avoid or prevent the power of attorney abuse:


Choose a trustworthy agent.

When choosing an agent, it’s important to choose someone trustworthy, reliable, and with the skills and knowledge necessary to manage the principal’s affairs. The agent should be someone who understands the scope of their responsibilities and is committed to acting in the principal’s best interests.


The power of attorney document should clearly define

The power of attorney document should clearly define the scope of the agent’s powers, including what decisions they can make and what assets they can manage.


Consider limiting the agent’s powers.

The power of attorney document can also limit the agent’s powers to specific areas, such as managing the principal’s finances or making medical decisions. This can help prevent the agent from overreaching or abusing their authority.


Include checks and balances.

To provide additional protection against abuse, the power of attorney document can include checks and balances, such as requiring the agent to provide regular reports to the principal or to seek the principal’s approval for certain decisions.


Consider appointing many agents.

If there are concerns about a single agent having too much power or the potential for abuse, the principal can appoint multiple agents to act together or in succession. This can provide additional oversight and help prevent any one agent from acting improperly.


Keep the power of attorney document up to date.

It’s important to keep the power of attorney document updated to reflect changes in the principal’s wishes or circumstances. This can help ensure the agent’s powers are current and reflect the principal’s current needs and preferences.


Keep the document in a safe place.

The power of attorney document should remain safe to be easily accessed and safe from theft or loss. Keeping a copy with the principal’s attorney or in a safe deposit box is a good idea.


Educate the principal and the agent.

The principal and the agent should know their rights and responsibilities under a power of attorney. The principal should understand what powers they grant to the agent and what steps they can take if they suspect abuse.


Watch for signs of abuse.

It’s important to watch for signs of abuse, such as unauthorized transactions or changes to the principal’s estate plan or other legal documents. If there are concerns about abuse, it’s important to take action quickly to prevent further harm.


Seek legal advice if necessary.

If there are concerns about abuse of the power of attorney, it’s important to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney. An attorney can review the power of attorney document and help take legal action to protect the principal’s interests.


Reasons to hire an attorney

How to report power of attorney abuse? If you suspect your power of attorney has violated your rights, taking action quickly to protect your interests is important. Your first step should be hiring a lawyer with experience navigating legal proceedings. Here are some examples of the power of attorney abuse and why hiring an attorney is crucial in power of attorney abuse cases:


Specializing in the power of attorney abuse cases

An attorney specializing in the power of attorney abuse cases will thoroughly understand the relevant laws and regulations. They can advise you on your legal rights and options and help you take the necessary steps to protect yourself.


Provide objective advice and guidance.

An attorney can provide objective advice and guidance, free from the emotions and personal relationships that can cloud your judgment when dealing with the power of attorney abuse. Depending on your case, they can help you make an informed decision and provide a clear, unbiased assessment of your options.


An attorney can investigate the alleged abuse.

An attorney can thoroughly investigate the alleged abuse and gather evidence to support your claim. They can also work with financial experts and other professionals to uncover hidden assets or transactions.


Negotiation and settlement

In some cases, resolving a POA abuse of power case may be possible through negotiation or settlement. An attorney can work with the other party to reach a fair and reasonable resolution that protects your interests and avoids the expense and uncertainty of going to trial.


An attorney can provide skilled representation.

If your case goes to court, an attorney can provide skilled representation, presenting your case to the judge and arguing on your behalf. They can also cross-examine witnesses and present evidence to support their claims.

An attorney can help you take steps to protect yourself from further abuse, such as obtaining a restraining order or seeking a court order to revoke a power of attorney. They can also work with law enforcement or other authorities to investigate and prosecute the abuser if necessary.


An attorney can provide peace of mind.

Hiring an attorney can provide peace of mind, knowing that you have a skilled and experienced advocate working to protect your interests. They can guide you through the legal process, answer your questions, and provide support and advice when needed.


FAQs About How Do You Prove Power Of Attorney Abuse?


What documents can be used to prove the power over abuse of authority?

Bank records, financial statements, credit card statement ledgers, receipts, bank records for wire transfers, and other legal documents show unauthorized activities. Also, gather evidence of fake identities, signatures or changes in the beneficiary of a bank account.


If there is suspicion of abuse is suspected, should the authority of attorney be immediately canceled?

Speak with an attorney before. The immediate removal of power of attorney could frighten the abusing person and encourage them to use assets. Take the documents and keep them in secret. The attorney then can apply for an injunction to stop the investigation and freeze accounts.


What legal recourses are available for abuse of power of attorney?

An attorney may file criminal and civil prosecution against a person. These include theft, fraud, financial abuse, violation of contract, and tortious interference. A power of attorney form can be cancelled.


Is it possible to go to jail for using the power of attorney?

Absolutely. Abuse of power of attorney that results in criminal activity such as fraud, embezzlement, fraud, identity theft or even extortion may cause a criminal prosecution or even imprisonment by state laws and the severity of the misuse.


What can you do if a family member’s attorney appears complicit in the misconduct?

Send your concerns to the State bar associations. They may investigate ethics violations or misconduct. You can also consult a new attorney specializing in estate or elder law litigation to examine your case.


What can be done to stop abuse of the power of attorney before it begins?

Require regular accountings. Designate co-agents to be accountable to each other. Have trusted family or friends to look over the statement. Think about a professional fiduciary rather than a family member.


Are there resources that can help you get legal assistance if you’ve been financially abused?

Non-profit legal organizations and elder law lawyers often offer free assistance and payment options. Adult protective services can help connect you to resources. You can also seek victim restitution money.


What do you do if police or prosecutors refuse to investigate criminal charges?

Ask an attorney for advice on possibly filing a civil suit against the perpetrator. Although it is not a criminal offence, an order from a judge can help bring back assets and stop further abuse of poa.



In conclusion, if you suspect your power of attorney has harmed you, taking action quickly to protect your interests is important. Hiring an experienced attorney can provide you with the following:

  • The legal expertise,
  • Objective advice,
  • Investigation and evidence gathering,
  • Negotiation and settlement,
  • Court representation,
  • Protection from further abuse,
  • And the peace of mind is needed to achieve a fair and just outcome.


Alec Stroup

ALEC STROUP Associate Attorney  Roseville Office  1-866-471-6981  Alec...

Hedy Ghavidel

HEDY GHAVIDEL Managing Attorney  Roseville Office  1-866-471-6981  Bio...