May 11, 2017
Elder Abuse: Misusing Power of Attorney Documents

Unfortunately, financial fraud targeting the aging population are extremely common within the United States.

Some these scams even involve relatives, friends, and family members who steal funds from their elder family member when they receive power of attorney. In a power of attorney scam, the family members who have been granted power will claim they removed funds from the elder individual’s account to protect it and keep the senile victim from spending it. In reality, however, the money is spent elsewhere.

The victims could lose their retirement, family home, and any other funds they need to pay for medical care, assistance, and cost of living.

Older Americans at Risk for Elder Abuse

Older Americans are at high-risk for elder abuse, especially fraud and financial abuse. An older adult may lose some degree of their cognitive abilities and may have difficulty understanding the complexity of their finances. That is why they offer power of attorney to a loved one that they trust to handle their finances for them.

How A Typical Power of Attorney Abuse Case Works

There are numerous ways for loved ones and caretakers to abuse their power of attorney. However, one example is an elderly individual that has no family. Therefore, they give their power of attorney to a distant relative. The distant relative uses that power to take money from bank accounts, drain investment accounts, and so forth.

Sadly, victims assume that their loved ones are doing it to invest or protect their money, not realizing that they have been robbed.

What is Power of Attorney?

Power of attorney is a written, legal authorization that gives a person the authority to act on another’s behalf. This might include the financial power of attorney, which gives an individual authority to manage all financial aspects of the estate, including bank accounts, mortgages, investments, etc.

When a trustworthy person has power of attorney, it can be a benefit for someone who is cognitively declining too far to manage their finances.

However, when this type of power falls to someone with greedy hands, they can use that power to steal money and assets and leave their loved one without any money. Sometimes, elderly people are in nursing homes where they must depend on others to care for them, so it’s easy for people to take advantage of them.

Taking Action Against Those Abusing their Power

Those who abuse their power with a financial power of attorney can be held accountable for such actions. Under these agreements, there are strict clauses that demand the appropriate behavior from the person granted power.

Some violations include the breach of fiduciary duty and conversion. In this case, an older adult can file a lawsuit against that family member or friend and seek damages — including repayment of all stolen funds, pain, and suffering.

Prevention is Best

The best way to avoid these situations is to always give the financial power of attorney to someone you trust. You may want to hire an attorney to review your power of attorney, screen family members, and ensure you give power to a person who is honest, mature, and more than capable of managing your funds in your best interest. Contact Ethan Vessels to see if you have a case by calling (740) 374-5346 or filling out our contact form.