A power of attorney (POA) document is an essential estate planning tool for instances when a person becomes unable to make decisions for themselves. However, because the person given power of attorney often gains the exclusive right to make important decisions regarding financial and medical matters, this can lead to conflict among family members.
If you have been given powers of attorney and another person is contesting that appointment, or if you believe someone is abusing their power over a loved one, you should reach out to a skilled attorney. Romano & Sumner are professionals who have experience in handing cases regarding contested powers of attorney in Sugar Land. They can help you understand the rights and limitations of a POA document and if this legal option is right for your family.
A power of attorney is a legally binding document that gives one person, named an agent or attorney in fact, the right to act on behalf of another person. In the event that a person, known as the principal, becomes incapacitated, or otherwise unable to act on their own behalf, this document gives the agent the power to make decisions in the best interests of the principal.
Generally, an agent can be given medical or financial powers of attorney. With a medical POA, an agent can make health care decisions for the principal. Sometimes, these health care decisions can involve life or death decisions. They may need to decide whether to discontinue life support after a serious accident or determine what kind of treatment to pursue for a chronic illness.
With financial power of attorney, an agent will have a considerable degree of control over a principal’s finances. They may have the right to:
Because a power of attorney affords an agent such a great deal of authority, it is crucial to meet with an experienced Sugar Land attorney if there are any questions or concerns.
If a family member has a concern regarding the potential abuse of a POA, there are several grounds upon which they could contest the appointment:
For a power of attorney to be valid, its execution needs to comply with state law. A local advisor could review the document to see if there are any possible legal nonconformities.
The principal must be legally competent when they signed the power of attorney document. For instance, if they were suffering from a form of dementia at the time of signing, their competence could be called into question. A Sugar Land lawyer could meet with medical doctors and review records to determine if the principal understood what they were signing.
The agent must make decisions that are in the best interests of the principal. For instance, those with medical powers of attorney need to decide where the principal should live, receive medical care, and who should be able to visit. An agent who bases these decisions on what is most convenient for themselves or how they can maximize their inheritance may be abusing their power.
For a financial POA, the agent needs to make sound business decisions on behalf of the principal. If the principal is older, the agent needs to protect their wealth by not taking unnecessary risks with investments. An agent who makes excessive gifts to themselves may be abusing their power by self-dealing.
A legal professional could take a close look at some of the contested medical and financial decisions made by an agent with powers of attorney to see if they appear to be in the principal’s best interests.
If you question the potential abuse of a POA, it is essential to meet with an experienced lawyer regarding contested powers of attorney in Sugar Land as soon as possible. Schedule a free consultation with Romano & Sumner today.
Romano & Sumner, PLLC