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Jul 15, 2022 by |

Alameda County Financial Elder Abuse Attorneys: Husband And Wife Used Power of Attorney To Steal From Principal With Alzheimer’s Disease

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

Man And Estranged Wife Allegedly Stole From Wife’s Great Aunt

$117,000 In Suspicious Transactions

Cash Withdrawals And Unauthorized Purchases

Financial powers of attorney (POAs) grant full authority over a person’s financial affairs. Medical powers of attorney, known in California as an Advance Health Care Directives (AHCDs), grant authority over medical decisions and health care issues.  The scope of authority under POAs and AHCDs is set by law. See Cal. Prob. Code §§ 4401 (statutory form for financial POA) and 4701 (statutory form for AHCD). The potential for abuse of such broad power is always present.  The misuse of a financial POA abuse includes outright theft of the principal’s money or property and, in a broader sense, making any decision or taking any action that is not in the donor’s best interest.  The burden of making decisions for the principal is a heavy one, even for the most trustworthy attorney-in-fact. For that reason, we recommend you appoint two trusted individuals as agents under any POA or AHCD to act jointly.  We also recommend that you never, ever, grant any form of Power of Attorney to a caregiverCaregivers and others can wield their POA power to change a principal’s entire estate plan and redirect the principal’s assets or Social Security, pension and annuity benefits to themselves.  If an agent has misused a POA to your or an older loved one’s detriment in Alameda County or elsewhere in California call us at (415)441-8669 or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

Recent Sentencing For Husband And Wife Theft By Power Of Attorney

In a recently reported case,[1] a man was placed on 23 months’ probation for his role in a scheme in which a power of attorney authorization was used to steal $80,170 from a woman suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The sentence included restitution of the amount of the victim’s loss attributed to him.  The man’s estranged wife became power of attorney in 2013 for a great aunt who is a resident of an assisted care facility and has Alzheimer’s disease, according to police.  An initial investigation by authorities uncovered more than $117,000 in suspicious transactions.  An audit determined between August 2013 and June 2016 that cash was received back from 72 of the 80 deposits of the victim’s checks.  The wife is accused of spending $87,319 of her great aunt’s money of which legitimate expenses totaled only $7,148.  Major alleged misappropriations listed in the arrest affidavit included $26,116 in cash withdrawals, $47,722 in credit card bills, $6,253 for clothing and $4,008 for shopping.

Civil Remedies Against Attorneys-in-Fact For Misuse Of POAs

In addition to possible criminal consequences, misuse of a POA is grounds for civil liability of twice any amounts taken and attorneys’ fees for the victim. Probate Code § 4231.5.  Where the principal is over age 65 or a dependent person (as the principal in the reported case), the misuse also constitutes criminal and civil financial elder or dependent adult abuse under California law.  Penal Code § 368; Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30.  Anyone assisting the Agent in taking a senior’s property is also guilty of financial elder abuse under the law.  Agents who wrongfully take the property of seniors (and their assistants in the taking) are responsible not only for twice the amount taken under the Probate Code but also, under the Elder Abuse Act, enhanced damages.  Both the Probate Code and the Elder Abuse Act grant the injured senior attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred in suing to get their property back. Probate Code § 4231.5(c); Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5.  

Contact Us

Ingrid M. Evans can represent you if an agent has misused a Power of Attorney granted by you or an older loved one in Alameda County or elsewhere in California.  If you need help, call us today at 415-441-8669 or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).or by email at <a href=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</a>.

[1] Evans Law Firm, Inc. was not involved in the reported case in any way.

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