Protecting yourself against power of attorney abuse allegations

Numerous duties come with holding power of attorney for financial matters and property. In this capacity, you may need to make complex, potentially unpopular decisions that can trigger disputes. And in some cases, someone may accuse you of abusing your power of attorney.

However, there are ways you can protect yourself from unsubstantiated claims that you are misusing your authority.

Know your role

One of the most effective ways to avoid accusations of misconduct is thoroughly understanding your duties. The adult whose care you are managing can dictate what you can and cannot do. You may or may not be able to:

  • Deposit pension cheques
  • File income taxes
  • Buy or sell property 
  • Collect debts
  • Change beneficiary designations
  • Give loans and charitable gifts

Be clear on what authority you have so that you do not cross lines and do something that could be grounds for removal.

Keep your records organized

Miscommunication and confusion can be the most common triggers for disputes between family members, loved ones, and the person with power of attorney.

Keeping receipts, financial statements and other relevant paperwork accessible and organized is crucial. It makes it easier to show evidence of specific transactions and provide a transparent accounting, should someone request it.

Don’t get defensive

It is stressful to manage someone else’s finances based on what is in their best interests (as opposed to what is easiest for you). And when you make decisions others disagree with, they can take that personally and accuse you of wrongdoing, even if you are only doing your job.

It is easy to be defensive in these situations, but that can only fuel someone’s suspicions. Instead, try to remain calm and objective. If their concerns are based on misinformation, clearing things up could be as simple as providing a basic explanation.

However, if a calm, respectful discussion is ineffective or out of the question, you can talk to a lawyer who can help you respond to allegations appropriately. 

Managing the financial matters and property of another person is complicated. Baseless allegations that you are doing it improperly make it even more difficult to carry out these duties. However, these tips can help you protect yourself and fight claims of power of attorney abuse.

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