Elder Abuse - Power of Attorney Scams

The ABA defines a power of attorney as "a written document in which a competent adult individual (the "principal") appoints another competent adult individual (the "attorney-in-fact" [or "agent"]) to act on the principal's behalf. In general, an attorney-in-fact [agent] may perform any legal function or task which the principal has a legal right to do for him/herself."

A power of attorney can be an important document to help manage the finances and affairs of an elderly family member. Yet, in the wrong hands, it can be used to scam elder individuals.

The two most common types of elder abuse involving the misuse of a power of attorney document are called conversion and breach of fiduciary duty.

Conversion. This category includes actions by the agent to "convert" the assets (bank accounts, investments, real estate, etc.) of the principal for their own benefit. Anyone who suspects this type of elder abuse should contact our offices so we can assist with the legal requirements for proving this power of attorney scam.

Breach of fiduciary duty. Anyone who assumes the responsibility of acting as another's agent also has to follow certain duties. If any of these are broken, or "breached," the agent may be subject to a legal claim. In general, the agent:

o must keep the elder person (principal) informed of all matters affecting their interests.

o cannot earn a 'secret' profit.

o cannot transfer any property without specific permission to do so in the power of attorney document.

Our attorneys are prepared to help with any concerns about power of attorney scams, particularly for the elderly population.

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