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Power of attorney abuse, and where to turn for support

When you grant someone power of attorney rights, you likely make the choice by how much you trust the individual. Unfortunately, there have been instances when that choice hasn't been an ideal one and the chosen individual misuses and/or abuses his or her powers. If you find yourself dealing with an abusive attorney, there are things you can do to try to rectify the situation.

If you discover your attorney is being abusive by way of your finances, property or anything else of value, you may need the assistance of the court to recoup any lost assets. A POA is in effect until you either revoke it, you pass away or if you are no longer able to make decisions that allow you to provide guidance to your attorney - unless of course you have an enduring POA.

Different powers of attorney

The most popular and common power of attorney these days is an enduring POA, which becomes active as soon as you name the individual and continues until you die. Limited and springing POAs are less common. An enduring POA is more favourable since it is more encompassing and allows you to plan for a situation where you might lose the ability to make your own decisions.

Abuse comes into play when the person to whom you grant power of attorney makes decisions on your behalf that aren't in your best interests. For instance, if this designated individual starts spending your money on frivolous things for him or herself without your permission, that's definitely a red flag, and should you no longer be able to monitor these kinds of inappropriate actions, an attorney has carte blanche with your finances. This is why it's so vital that POA is granted to someone who has your best interests at heart and who is trustworthy.

Trying to stop abuse

If you can still make conscious decisions and power of attorney abuse is taking place, you have the right to revoke or cancel the POA. Notify your lawyer in writing that you want to cancel your POA effective immediately. Also let your bank know and any businesses or people with whom the individual you designated for this role has contact. Making a new POA doesn't cancel an old one, so you have to make it clear you want to cancel a former legal document.

Issues involving powers of attorneys do not have to be intimidating, especially if you choose to take advantage of the resources readily available to you. An experienced lawyer will be familiar with all British Columbia legalities regarding POAs, and can help you craft your legal document in a manner that could significantly decrease the potential of any future abuse of powers. Acquiring legal counsel could also be an imperative step toward protecting your rights and stopping any ongoing abuse you may be facing.

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