Power of Attorney
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that transfers authority from one individual to another. The individual giving the power of attorney is referred to as the principal. When a power of attorney is executed, the principal is granting another person (known as the attorney-in-fact) the right to act as his or her agent. In order for a power of attorney to be valid, the principal must have the mental capacity to properly execute the document and he or she must be free from the undue influence of another. The authority granted from the principal to the agent in a power of attorney can be very broad or limited to specific acts.
When a person takes on the responsibility of acting as the agent for principal under a power of attorney, the person stands in a special, or fiduciary, relationship with the principal. This means that the agent is required to meet a certain standard of care when acting on behalf of the principal. The agent must make decisions and manage the affairs of the principal so as to benefit the principal. If the agent breaches his or her fiduciary duty, the agent may be held legally liable.
Power of Attorney Abuse
Unfortunately, powers of attorneys are sometimes used to scam vulnerable and elderly individuals out of money or other property. Dishonest relatives, caregivers and other acquaintances may take advantage of a lonely or confused senior citizen by tricking the senior into signing a power of attorney document that gives them direct access to the senior’s assets. In other instances, the person named as the agent in a Fort Myers power of attorney may abuse the authority granted in the document. Consider the greedy agent who wrongfully closes out a principal’s financial accounts or changes the individual(s) named as beneficiaries on a life insurance policy so as to cheat the rightful heirs out of their inheritance.
If you believe that a power of attorney is being abused, you need to seek the advice of skilled legal counsel. The Fort Myers attorneys at SW Florida Probate Trial Lawyers are experienced trial lawyers who know how to litigate claims involving the unauthorized use or abuse of a power of attorney. Our legal team has decades of experience investigating and trying complex civil cases. When a power of attorney relationship is being challenged because fraud, theft or other wrongful activities may have taken place, our lawyers are well prepared to aggressively litigate the case from start to finish.
While the power of attorney often grants the agent broad authority to handle the affairs of the principal, the agent is still required to act in the best interest of the principal. If the agent fails to fulfill his or her duties under the law, a suit can be brought seeking to hold the agent legally liable for any monetary losses or damages. Additionally, when an agent threatens, coerces or tricks an elderly or sick individual into signing a power of attorney, legal action can be taken against the agent.
SW Florida Probate Trial Lawyers Will Review Your Case
If you or a loved one has been victimized by the unauthorized or abusive use of a power of attorney, or if you are an agent involved in a Fort Myers or Naples power of attorney dispute, contact our law offices today. Our litigation team will carefully review your situation to determine the best course of action to take in your case. SW Florida Probate Trial Lawyers is a skilled probate, estate and trust litigation firm with offices in Fort Myers, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, Florida and can be reached by calling 800-785-0647.