Power of Attorney Abuse in Texas
What Are Your Options When Someone Violates the Terms of a POA?
A power of attorney (POA) can be a useful legal document, allowing you to designate someone to handle your affairs and act on your behalf when you cannot. As a general rule, it’s always in your best interests to be as specific as possible when identifying the powers delegated under the POA. Typically, you’ll grant your POA to someone you trust, someone you reasonably expect will act in your best interests and comply with your wishes. Unfortunately, individuals who are granted POA occasionally violate the terms of the document. What recourse do you have when the person given your POA breaches your trust and takes action that is not in your best interests?
How Can You Tell If Your Agent Is Violating the Terms of a POA?
Often, the wrongful exercise of a POA is readily apparent, as the actions of the agent directly contradict the terms of the document or clearly go beyond the scope of the assignment. For example, the agent might attempt to sell property without proper consent or make decisions about legal or financial matters when only granted a medical POA.
Often, though, the warning signs of POA abuse are more subtle:
- There may be sudden and dramatic changes in the financial well-being of the person conveying the POA (the principal).
- The agent may suddenly have a new car, new clothes, or other material things.
- The agent may try to keep documents or information from the principal or from others related to the principal.
- The agent may try to get the principal to sign documents without explaining what they are or why a signature is needed.
- The agent may hold themself out to be the principal (identity theft).
Ways to Prevent Abuse or Stop Existing Abuse
Before you execute a POA, it’s a good idea to notify family members, financial institutions, your attorneys, and any others who may be subject to its provisions. Let them know that you are creating the POA, tell them who you’re designating as the agent, and specify the powers you’ll be granting. It’s also a good idea to give a copy of the POA document to any person or entity affected by the POA.
Hire an experienced probate attorney to prepare your POA. These documents can be complicated—don’t use a generic form that you downloaded online or purchase at the local business supply store. A knowledgeable probate attorney can ensure that your POA contains the appropriate terms to minimize the likelihood of abuse and effectively limit the agent’s powers as necessary. For example, you can include language that requires the agent to obtain permission from a third party to take any action on your behalf, or that sets up two or more parties as co-agents.
Contact the Experienced Probate Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with an aggressive and knowledgeable probate and estate lawyer, contact us by email or call our offices at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.