When Disputes Over Powers Of Attorney May Lead To Litigation
Have you been challenged over your use of a power of attorney that named you as eligible to manage your incapacitated loved one’s assets or health care decisions? Or do you need to bring a challenge against someone who is abusing a power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a document where one person (the principal) gives another person (the agent) the legal ability to act on their behalf. There may be necessary contingencies such as the incapacity of the principal or a certain time frame that the power of attorney will be in effect. For help creating, interpreting or using a power of attorney, turn to attorney Brandon Forgione at Forgione Law in Stuart, Florida.
How Powers Of Attorney Work And How Disputes Arise
If someone is challenging you or if you wish to challenge someone over a power of attorney, you should first understand what makes it legitimate and applicable. A power of attorney must be properly executed by a competent principal to be valid. There are also certain powers that the agent cannot exercise unless the principal specifically signs or initials next to the enumeration of that authority, such as the power to create a trust, make a gift and create or change beneficiary designations or rights of survivorship.
An agent under a power of attorney is a fiduciary and must always act in the best interests of the principal. For example, an agent has a duty to avoid conflicts of interest and, in the event of such conflicts, bears a high “burden of proof” to validate the conflicted transactions.
Unfortunately, agents sometimes abuse their authority and violate the trust that has been placed in them by the principal, such as by:
- Taking funds from bank accounts
- Changing beneficiary designations to themselves or immediate family members
- Re-titling assets in their own name
If an agent misuses a power of attorney, interested persons can seek to have a court review the agent’s conduct, suspend the power of attorney, and restore any assets that have been improperly taken or depleted.
Bring A Challenge Or Defend Your Right To Use A Power Of Attorney
With more than a decade of experience in probate litigation and related legal conflicts such as powers of attorney contests, attorney Forgione in Stuart is available to evaluate your case. Turn to him for advice and advocacy, regardless of which side of a dispute you are on.
At Forgione Law, you will find a lawyer with extensive experience representing principals, agents and other interested persons in power-of-attorney disputes. If you have questions about an agent’s conduct, or if you are an agent seeking guidance, please contact the firm by email or by calling 561-730-3926 for the answers and assistance that you need.