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Jun 3, 2024 by |

San Francisco Financial Elder Abuse Attorneys: Financial Power Of Attorney Abuse

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

82-Year-Old Victim

POA Allegedly Transferred Thousands To His Own Accounts

Remedies For Injured Seniors

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 forms for both financial and medical POAs are found in California statutes. See Cal. Prob. Code §§ 4401 (statutory form for financial POA) and 4701 (statutory form for AHCD). The person granting the authority is referred to as the “principal” and the person(s) to whom the powers are granted is referred to as “agent(s)” or “attorney(s)-in-fact.”  Misuse of financial POAs for the personal benefit of the agent violates the law, and, when the principal is a senior, constitutes the crime of financial elder abuse (Penal Code § 368) and is grounds for civil liability on the part of the abusing agent (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, call us at (415)441-8669 or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

Recent Arrest[1]

According to newspaper reports, a state Attorney General recently announced the arrest of an individual for financially exploiting an elderly man.  The Attorney General’s office said the arrested individual systematically took more than $17,000 from the senior’s bank account over an 18-month period, spending the funds on personal bills and purchases from DoorDash, Netflix, Amazon, and other stores.  “This man, while serving in a position of trust as a power of attorney, stole more than $17,000 from a senior victim’s bank account to use on himself. It is shameful that instead of faithfully fulfilling the role of power of attorney, he stole thousands of dollars to pay his own utilities and bills from DoorDash, Netflix, Amazon and other stores,” the Attorney General said.  According to the investigation, the individual, while in a position of trust with the 82-year-old victim, transferred more than $44,000 from the victim’s account into his own account. Based on witness accounts, facility records and bank records, he spent more than $17,000 of those transferred funds on personal expenses—not for the use or benefit of the victim.

Defendant faces one count of exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult, less than $50,000—a second-degree felony. Charges are pending.

Civil Remedies For Misuse Of POAs

Misuse of a POA is grounds for civil liability of twice any amounts taken and attorneys’ fees for the victim. Probate Code § 4231.5.  Any relative of an elderly principal has standing under the law to challenge the conduct of an attorney-in-fact for the elder and to force them to account for their transactions.  Probate Code §§ 4540(d) and 4541.  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.  Damages are also doubled under the Probate Code for any financial abuse of a senior.  Probate Code § 859.  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 San Francisco.  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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