Alleged Misuse Of Power Of Attorney Of Elderly And Disabled Persons
Authorities Believe $3.5 Million Stolen
96-Year-Old Victim Nearly Evicted From Nursing Home For Non-Payment
Financial powers of attorney (POAs) grant full authority over a person’s financial affairs, and medical powers of attorney, known in California as an Advance Health Care Directives (AHCDs), grant authority over medical decisions and health care issues. The person granting the authority is referred to as the “principal” and the persons to whom the powers are granted are referred to as “agent(s)” or “attorney(s)-in-fact. See Cal. Prob. Code §§ 4401 (statutory form for financial POA) and 4701 (statutory form for AHCD). Elderly persons and persons with disabilities often use POAs because they are unable to manage their financial affairs for themselves. Wherever a third-party has control over someone else’s money, there is the potential for fraud and misuse of that authority. Misuse of financial POAs may violates the law, and, when the principal is a senior, may constitute the crime of financial elder abuse (Penal Code § 368) and be grounds for civil liability (Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30) for extra damages and an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses for having to bring a case against a dishonest agent. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5. If an agent has misused a POA to your or an older loved one’s detriment in San Francisco or elsewhere in the Bay Area or in California call us at (415)441-8669 or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).
Attorney-in-Fact Sentenced For Theft
In a recently reported case, an individual who held the Power of Attorney for several disabled and older persons has been sentenced to prison for using those POAs to steal millions from her principals. According to authorities, the individual went on a five-year spending spree, allegedly looting numerous elder and dependent adults of their money, including a 96-year-old woman facing removal from a nursing home because her trust fund was plundered, to several children, some now adults, with Cerebral Palsy. In all, authorities estimate that the attorney-in-fact used her powers to steal over $3.5 million from eight dependent individuals over a period of years. Prosecutors indicated that she met most of her victims through a local Cerebral Palsy assistance agency. All of the funds she stole went into her own personal bank accounts, according to the government.
Keeping Older Loved Ones Safe
This case illustrates that you should always keep in mind some very basic rules about Powers of Attorney:
- Never grant a Power of Attorney to anyone without knowing that person well.
- Appoint two persons so they can monitor one another’s activities.
- Never, ever let a stranger or new “friend” or caregiver get involved in an older person’s financial affairs.
A stranger or new “friend” may well be ready to financially exploit a senior. A caregiver is there to provide health care and assistance with daily living activities, NOT finances. Never, ever grant a power of attorney or a blank check or a credit or debit card to a caregiver or nursing home staff member. Never allow access to financial or personal information like Social Security Numbers, PINs, or bank account information. Never give a caregiver (or anyone else for that matter) a blank check for anything. Monitor all of a senior’s credit cards and bank accounts online. Every day. Track where your loved one’s Social Security and pension benefits are being deposited. Every month. Have financial statements mailed to your address so others do not have access to you loved one’s business mail. Perhaps most important of all, if you suspect anything wrong, do something about it right away.
If you suspect financial elder abuse of a loved one, friend or neighbor in San Francisco, or elsewhere in California, call Ingrid M. Evans at Evans Law Firm, Inc. at (415) 441-8669, or by email at email@example.com. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267). Ingrid pursues all available remedies for families and injured seniors against those responsible.
 Evans Law Firm, Inc. was not involved in the reported case in any way.