I have previously addressed what an Enduring Power of Attorney is and the duties of an Attorney. Now that you know who they are and what they are supposed to do, you should also be aware of what to do if you think you or someone you know may be the victim of an unscrupulous Attorney, or abuse.
How do I know if an Attorney is acting irresponsibly?
Sometimes it is easy to know when someone is behaving inappropriately, but when it is a person acting under an Enduring Power of Attorney, the lines can be blurred. An Attorney is empowered to do things an ordinary person would not usually be able to do. An example is accessing another person’s bank accounts to draw out funds. The best way to know if an Attorney is acting irresponsibly toward the principal (the person who gave the power) is to obtain a copy of the Enduring Power of Attorney so that you can see if there are any special provisions in place to restrict the Attorney’s powers. However, the following actions can indicate improper behaviour on the part of the Attorney:
- If they are withdrawing funds from the principal’s bank account and using them to purchase goods purely for their own use and or benefit;
- If they have sold the principal’s house without their knowledge or without providing them with alternative accommodation;
- If they are giving away or selling the principal’s possessions inappropriately;
- If they have chosen accommodation or care for the principal which is unsafe or obviously inappropriate;
- If they are engaging in illegal activity, for example defrauding the principal or physically harming them;
- If they have transferred the principal’s house into their name without the principal’s knowledge or consent.
What do I do if I think an Attorney is acting irresponsibly?
If you are the principal and you do not want someone to be your Attorney any more, you should obtain legal advice about signing a Revocation of the Enduring Power of Attorney. This document revokes the Attorney’s power and stops them from continuing to make decisions for you. If you are not the principal, you should consult an estate planning solicitor for advice. Both options ensures the abuse won’t continue.
Who do I tell if I think an Attorney is acting irresponsibly?
If you know or suspect that the Attorney has been engaging in illegal activity, you should get legal advice. If you fear that your Attorney is acting irresponsibly regarding your money and you have not yet been to see a solicitor to complete a Revocation of Enduring Power of Attorney, you should contact your financial institutions and advise them that you would like access to your accounts limited to you alone. You should then see as a solicitor as soon as possible to discuss the preparation of a Revocation of Enduring Power of Attorney.
If you think you or someone you know may be the victim of an Attorney or is going through abuse, please do not hesitate to contact me for assistance and advice.