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May 16, 2023 by |

Los Angeles Financial Elder Abuse Attorneys: Powers of Attorney Allegedly Used To Steal From Dementia Patients

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

$300,000 Missing From Accounts Of Two Dementia Patients

Residents Of Assisted Care Facility 

Bills Unpaid, Threatening Their Eviction

Powers of Attorney (POAs) are incredibly important – and powerful – legal instruments.  Sometimes, they are absolutely essential when the principal needs their appointed agent to take over the principal’s financial affairs when they are unable to manage them any longer, but such broad power can be misused.  The results can be devastating.   Whenever you grant an individual a POA make sure it is a person you trust.  You should consult with a trusted advisor and close loved ones of this decision; do not make the decision at the urging of a single individual (especially if he or she is suggesting themselves).  NEVER HAVE A CAREGIVER AS POWER OF ATTORNEY.  Instead, have a family member you trust and preferably joint powers of attorney that have to act together if there is concern with anyone.   Additionally, if you are concerned about family or don’t have family to be your power of attorney you can hire a licensed, bonded and insured fiduciary – look at PFAC.org or the PFAC (Professional Fiduciary Association of California) in your County for recommendations. Being vulnerable is a scary thing and having a plan is the best way to protect yourself and your family.  We have seen too many cases where caregivers or others abuse any POA to benefit themselves to an older person’s real harm.  If an agent has misused a POA to your or an older loved one’s detriment in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California call us today at (415)441-8669. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

Misuse Of Power Of Attorney

In one reported case,  a woman acting under the powers of attorney for two elderly persons was arrested and accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars belonging to her victims.[1]  Following a months-long investigation by the California Department of Justice’s Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse Unit, the suspect was charged with two counts of grand theft and four counts of money laundering, with sentence-enhancing allegations of taking or destroying property in a white- collar crime. According to state prosecutors, the suspect was given power of attorney to manage the affairs of two residents of an assisted living facility, who, because of their cognitive challenges, were unable to pay bills or control other aspects of their lives.  For over four years,  the suspect was responsible for ensuring that the need of the two patients were met, including paying for their care via accounts belonging to the pair, according to court papers. But prosecutors allege that the individual instead pocketed nearly $300,000 of the victims’ funds, spending on herself and not on them.  The investigation was initiated when the victims became at risk of being evicted from their assisted living apartments, according to the DOJ.  Audits uncovered numerous alleged discrepancies in the victims’ accounts, pointing to transactions involving the suspect, who was “abusing her role as power of attorney,” the DOJ stated. 

What To Do If A POA Is Misused

POA misuse is a prevalent form of financial elder abuse, but Evans Law Firm can help injured seniors whenever a POA has been misused. We are familiar with California law protecting principals from abuse by their appointed agents.  For example, California law prohibits an agent from designating beneficiaries or creating future (or survivorship) interests in the principal’s property unless specifically authorized to do so in a POA.  Cal. Prob. Code § 4264.  The agent is also strictly prohibited from making or revoking the principal’s Will. Cal. Prob. Code § 4265.   We have experience with many cases involving the misuse of POAs and know how to investigate and prosecute civil cases against all persons responsible for the theft or financial abuse.  Misuse of a POA to commit any such wrongful or unauthorized acts renders the transactions void and also makes the offending agent liable for attorneys’ fees when the principal sues for the abuse.  Cal. Prob. Code § 4231.5(c).

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.  If you need help, call us today at 415-441-8669 or by email at <a href=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</a>. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).  Ingrid will pursue all remedies available against the agent, including attorneys’ fees and expenses for the older person required to bring an action based on the agent’s wrongful conduct.

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

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