Recourse For Abuses Of A Florida Durable Power Of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is one of the most effective tools at your disposal for handling property if you become incapacitated, so it is a key component of Florida estate planning. With this document, you appoint an agent to manage your real estate, personal property, and other assets if you are unable to do so because of a medical condition. You should only choose someone you trust as your attorney-in-fact, because there is the potential for abuse.
It is important for the person creating the power of attorney and their successors to understand the legal remedies when the agent violates the terms of the document or Florida law. A Dade City powers of attorney lawyer can assist with pursuing a person for misconduct, and some background information is helpful.
Examples of Abuses by an Attorney-in-Fact: A principal hands over significant authority through a durable power of attorney, so the agent is required to act in the person’s best interests with respect to managing property. When the agent betrays this trust, it is a violation of both Florida law and the terms of the power of attorney. Typically, misconduct comes either through manipulating the principal OR the assets themselves. It is important to recognize and avoid potential abuses, such as:
- Changing beneficiaries on bank accounts and life insurance policies;
- Modifying the deeds to real estate to remove or add joint tenants;
- Re-titling bank accounts, life insurance, annuities, and other accounts into the agent’s name;
- Altering the terms of a will, trust, or other estate planning documents; and,
- Engaging in transactions that diminish or waste the principal’s assets.
These acts, and any other misconduct that can amount to breach of fiduciary duty by the agent, could be actionable.
Legal Remedies for Violating the Law: It is wise to get law enforcement involved when the acts by the agent are criminal in nature, but keep in mind that the outcome of criminal prosecution may only be fines and jail time. You may need to pursue other legal options to recover the value of all property that the attorney-in-fact misappropriated. In most cases, it will be necessary to file a civil lawsuit to claim damages for:
- Forgery; and,
- Breach of fiduciary duty.
The principal can take legal action; successors in interest would be in the position to file a lawsuit if the principal remains incapacitated or has passed away. It is possible to recover the value of the property, plus attorneys’ fees to pursue the lawsuit.
Discuss Abuses with a Florida Powers of Attorney Lawyer
If you have concerns about an agent’s conduct, please contact The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane to schedule a consultation. You can reach our location in Dade City by calling 352-567-0055 or visiting our website. After reviewing your circumstances, we can explain legal remedies and go over strategies for enforcing your rights.