Avoiding Conflicts Of Interest With Powers Of Attorney In Florida
A power of attorney is an excellent way to make sure that an elderly relative’s financial and healthcare needs are met when they are no longer able to. However, with great power comes great responsibility.
Agents holding the power of attorney have significant responsibilities towards the principal – the person who signed the power of attorney. Violating those duties could constitute a conflict of interest.
What constitutes a conflict of interest in Florida?
Florida law imposes two duties on the agent responsible for a power of attorney. These duties guide and limit the agent’s actions.
First, the agent must act with the duty of loyalty to their principle. Second, the agent must refrain from conflicts of interest, otherwise known as self-dealing.
The Duty of Loyalty
The duty of loyalty requires the agent to act with the principal’s best interests in mind. This means the agent must use the principal’s assets to provide for the principal. The agent cannot let the principal live in squalor in an effort to save money for the estate, and the agent cannot ignore their duties and ignore the principal.
The Duty to Refrain from Conflicts of Interest
The duty to refrain from conflicts of interest means, or self-dealing, means that the agent cannot use the principal’s money as their own. For example, the agent can’t use the principal’s money to invest in their start-up business.
It’s important to keep in mind that, when writing the power of attorney, the principal can give the agent permission to charge a fee for their services. While many agents conduct their duties out of love for the principal, allowing an agent to earn something for their work reflects the fact that their time is valuable.
What to do if you think an agent is acting with a conflict of interest
If you’re concerned the agent is engaging in conflicts of interest, you have several options. You can spend more time with the principal to see what’s happening with their assets and how the agent is treating them.
You can also talk to the agent directly about how they are caring for the principal. Ask to see a copy of the principal’s financial statements. Caring for an elderly relative can be difficult, and often there are a lot of hidden costs you may not see without looking at a detailed accounting.
You can also petition the court to request a review of the agent’s activities. The court can end the agent’s authority or remove them from their duties.
Working with a power of attorney disputes attorney
If you believe that the person holding the power of attorney for your loved one has a conflict of interest in this role, you can work with an attorney. An experienced Pompano Beach power of attorney disputes attorney at the office of Mark R. Manceri, P.A. is able to review the facts of the case, can give advice on how to resolve the matter quietly, and, if necessary, help you take your case to court.