A power of attorney is a comprehensive estate planning tool that can be used by individuals to safeguard their financial and medical interests in Newport Beach. Therefore, when Californians grant power of attorney to loved ones or friends, they trust that they will do the right thing on their behalf. Unfortunately, people may take advantage of such a situation, and it can lead to manipulation and elder abuse. A Newport Beach contested power of attorney lawyer can help defend people in these cases.
A beneficiary who is no longer acting in the interests of the incapacitated or deceased can hijack the entire estate plan of a loved one. When engaging in estate administration, they may distribute the trust in ways that are not according to the will of the deceased. If you believe that the power of attorney of a loved one should be contested or challenged, a Newport Beach contested power of attorney lawyer from Ross Law Group, APC, can support you in getting back control of the situation.
A power of attorney, or POA, is a legal document that can be implemented by an individual who wishes to protect their health and financial interests in case they become incapacitated. An individual, known as the principal, will grant a family member, or someone that they trust, the power to make financial and healthcare-related decisions on their behalf. As long as the principal is still competent at making decisions, they can terminate the POA.
There are two major kinds of power of attorney:
There are durable and nondurable powers of attorney:
A Newport Beach estate plan may include a durable power of attorney, which is typically a springing power of attorney. This means that the POA becomes effective when the principal is no longer able to make sound decisions for themselves. This gives the agent full authority as a decision-maker on behalf of the principal.
It’s important to note that after the principal passes away, there is an individual who handles the administration of the deceased’s estate, who is known as the executor. While the deceased may have appointed the same individual to be both the POA agent and estate executor, their task as the executor is not to be confused with the role of the agent. An estate attorney from Ross Law Group, APC, can help you understand which tools can be employed for your estate planning needs in Newport Beach, CA.
When the principal is deciding who their agent will be, it is critical that they choose an individual whom they trust to carry out decisions in their interest. In California, there are separate forms that must be filled out for a financial POA and a healthcare POA. There must be two witnesses of the signing of these forms, and the principal must sign off on them. The financial power of attorney must be signed in front of a lawyer or notary public.
Once the agent has the authority to make decisions as per the power of attorney document, it is required that they keep detailed documents of all transactions that they carry out. It’s important to know that, under California law, an interested party or loved one can always ask to see the records to examine how the finances of the principal are being handled. If these records are considered to be inadequate, the agent must prove in court that they are carrying out their duties according to protocol.
Because a power of attorney document grants a large amount of power and authority to the agent, it is important that the principal choose someone that they genuinely trust to make major decisions on their behalf. Unfortunately, it is not rare for this decision-making power to be exploited by people in Newport Beach.
The agent may start to act in their own self-interest in relation to the principal’s money and other assets, such as trusts. This can lead to disputes, such as trust litigation. It may also be that the agent may be falling short when carrying out all their required responsibilities.
While the principal can always alter or terminate their POA when they still have the capacity to make sound choices, most problems with an agent typically arise after the principal has lost their decision-making capabilities.
In such a case, a third party can petition to have the POA altered. This process is complex, and evidence must be provided to the court that the agent is not doing their job properly. The agent will be notified that a complaint is being submitted to the court, and they must have the opportunity to defend themselves.
The process of getting a POA modified can be difficult, especially if a third party is filing for the modification. However, there are three major reasons that can justify the modification of a POA by the California courts.
The agent of a power of attorney document may be making financial and healthcare choices that are no longer in the principal’s interests. Typically, this would involve the agent using their decision-making authority to their own benefit.
The agent may be accused of taking money from the accounts or assets of the principal for themselves. They might also be failing to sufficiently document their management of the principal’s financial assets.
Furthermore, they could be mismanaging the funds of the principal, which can lead to their needs being ignored or neglected. Any time that the agent is not properly carrying out their duties according to the POA guidelines, their validity can be challenged in the California courts.
The courts can decide to alter a POA due to undue influence, meaning that the agent somehow got their appointment through illegitimate means, such as a scheme that took advantage of the principal. Such means of illegitimately acquiring an appointment as a POA agent can involve threats, coercion, and manipulation.
If a person older than 65 is manipulated into handing over assets or property, then California law labels this as undue influence. To show that undue influence was carried out, there are four elements that must be proven.
The third-party who is contesting the POA on the grounds of undue influence will need to prove that the principal was particularly vulnerable. They will also need to show that the agent who gained their status through false means had apparent authority, such as being a healthcare provider or family member.
Additionally, they will need to prove that there was an inequitable result as a function of the agent’s wrongdoing. The specific methods and actions of the agent that lead to this must be shown and proven. An experienced contested power of attorney lawyer from Ross Law Group, APC, can work with you to help correct any wrongs that were done to your loved one.
Sometimes, critical mistakes are found in a power of attorney document that can deem it invalid. For example, a document that was not signed in front of witnesses, a notary, or an attorney, as required by law, can be considered invalid.
Also, if the legal language required by California law is missing, or if the language that specifies the responsibilities and duties of the agent is false, then this can be grounds for modification or termination of the document.
A power of attorney lawyer from Ross Law Group, APC, can help you review all the details associated with your case, such as the language and terms of the power of attorney document, to determine how you can protect a loved one from being manipulated or neglected.
Seeing a loved one being taken advantage of or neglected is extremely difficult, especially one who is mentally and physically unable to make decisions for themselves. Fortunately, our Newport Beach contested power of attorney lawyers can defend the rights of your loved one when they can no longer do so.
At Ross Law Group, APC, our team has years of experience working on cases similar to yours, and we can work to find the right solution so that your loved one’s interests can be protected and cared for. Reach out and start working with one of our concerned lawyers today. We can help you take control of your Newport Beach power of attorney situation.