Power of Attorney Disputes
Creating an estate plan can be an emotionally delicate process. Not only may the decisions you make regarding distribution of assets cause rifts, but your choices regarding who has the authority to manage your affairs could also create discord. The family members not selected, feeling the pain of bruised feelings, may accuse the Agent named in a Power of Attorney of “stealing all of Dad’s money” or otherwise abusing the financial powers granted to the agent. When these family squabbles descend into litigated disputes, a Board-certified estate litigation attorney can assist you with handling your Case.
The most common issues in Power of Attorney disputes arise in financial situations. Sometimes, an Agent’s relatives may unfairly view an Agent’s actions as a calculated plot to line his or her pockets for their own benefit. Other times, an Agent is abusing his or her powers, requiring other loved ones to step in. With most Powers of Attorney an Agent has broad powers, seemingly making it easy to act improperly.
A Power of Attorney dispute may take several forms. The contesting party may argue that the Power of Attorney was never valid. Currently, a valid Power of Attorney must name an Agent who is either: (a) a person who is at least 18 years old, or (b) a financial institution that has Trust powers, is authorized to conduct Trust business and has a place of business in Florida. The Principal and two witnesses must sign the document before a notary. The petitioning party may contest various aspects of the Agent’s decision-making, arguing that the Agent exceeded his or her authority in taking an action, or that an Agent’s choices were geared toward benefitting him/herself rather than the Principal (the maker of the Power of Attorney).
Florida Statute 709.2116 sets forth the procedures where the Court gets involved in a Power of Attorney dispute. Under the Statute, the Court has the authority to review the Agent’s conduct, end the Agent’s authority or remove the Agent, among other remedies. Court proceedings may be initiated by the Principal, any Agent (including successor Agents,) a government agency with a duty to protect the Principal’s welfare, the Principal’s guardian, conservator, or trustee, or any person proving “to the court’s satisfaction that the person is interested in the welfare of the Principal and has a good faith belief that the court’s intervention is necessary.”
When private resolution fails, or is not a viable option, litigation may be the only resort remaining. If litigation becomes inevitable, Fort Lauderdale estate and trust litigation attorney Mark R. Manceri is available to diligently represent you in your Power of Attorney dispute. Mr. Manceri has nearly three decades of experience handling these types of cases and can present your Case throughout the Court proceedings (including trial and appeal). Call (954) 491-7099 for a confidential consultation or contact Mr. Manceri online.