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Can I challenge my loved one's power of attorney appointment?

Assigning someone power of attorney means giving that person the power to make decisions for you. These decisions are not insignificant, either, so it is crucial that you take seriously who has this type of control.

However, your powers of attorney may not be what you are worried about if you have a parent or other loved one who is legally incapacitated. You might instead be concerned that someone else is abusing his or her role as an agent. Under these circumstances, it may be prudent to contest the power of attorney.

Contesting power of attorney can be quite challenging, as it will require that you provide evidence that the person with POA -- called the agent -- is negligent or abusing his or her power.

If a person has financial POA, signs that he or she is neglecting or abusing this power might include:

  • Unpaid bills and medical expenses
  • Unfiled tax returns
  • Making risky investments
  • Selling your loved one's home without notifying anyone else
  • Using loved one's finances to support his or her own needs

If a person has health care POA, signs that he or she is neglecting or abusing this power might include:

  • Disclosing details of your loved one's medical records
  • Placing your loved one in a substandard medical facility
  • Approving or withholding medical procedures that go against your loved one's wishes
  • Allowing your loved one to be cared for by negligent or reckless medical personnel
  • Attempting to circumvent a living will

Each of these signs could be a red flag that an agent is abusing his or her authority, and if your loved one is not capable of revoking the POA, it may be up to you to challenge it.

Understand, however, that your loved one may have expressed different wishes to his or her POA. Further, just because you disagree with an agent's decision does not mean there are grounds to invalidate a POA.

If you have reason to believe that your loved one is being abused, neglected or taken advantage of by someone with POA, it can be crucial that you discuss your concerns with an attorney. With legal insight, you can determine if contesting POA is a good idea and how you can go about doing so.

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