This is the next post in my series on understanding and creating a power of attorney in Hartford or other Connecticut areas. My last article discussed the limitations of a power of attorney. It is important to understand that the individual who is conveyed power through the document will have no more or less power than what is specifically spelled out in the papers. If the power of attorney is too narrow, then the individual may not be able to complete necessary tasks. If the power is too broad, then there may be unintended consequences which are averse to the party granting authority. Retaining an experienced estate planning lawyer to assist you can help to ensure that your power of attorney strikes the right balance. In this article, I will discuss the process of challenging a power of attorney. If you are in need of assistance, then contact my office to schedule an initial consultation.
The first step in challenging the use of a power of attorney is to file a Petition with the Probate Court. Another common first step is to file for an Injunction. An Injunction is an order from the Probate Judge which will prohibit activity from occurring while the case proceeds. One may, for example, request an Injunction requiring that no money be spent from a certain bank account while the case proceeds. Violations of an Injunction can lead to civil penalties or jail time. Depending on the circumstances, the Court may be willing to hold a hearing, as to whether an Injunction should be granted, within as little as a few days. If the matter is not resolved through Motion practice at an early hearing, then the case will proceed as do other lawsuits.
If the matter must proceed through litigation, then each party will be given the opportunity to conduct discovery. This is the process by which information is gained for court proceedings. It allows parties to acquire documents, records, written answers to written questions, and sworn testimony. The type of information which a party will attempt to gain through discovery will depend on the specific nature of the case. Matters involving a breach of fiduciary duty or conversion, for example, will likely focus on the financial records of the person who is alleged to have abused their role as the power of attorney. Matters involving claims of elder abuse, by contrast, will likely focus on medical records and other documentation showing that one has not been properly cared for. The type of evidence which is relevant to a given matter will depend on the facts of the situation and it is vital that you discuss your situation with an experienced lawyer so that they may help you plan the proper course of action.
If the case is not resolved or settled, then the matter will proceed to a bench trial. The Judge will serve as the decider of fact and issue any necessary orders as part of their ruling. If the Court finds that the power of attorney was abused, then the judge may award damages to the wronged party. The Court may also dissolve the power of attorney, leave it in place, or grant other relief which is appropriate under the situation. It is important to remember that the trial process is extremely complicated, as are the other aspects of litigation, and the rules of procedure will be enforced by the Judge. Retaining qualified counsel can assist you in ensuring that your case is handled properly from beginning to end.
If you or a loved one are in need of assistance, then contact our office today to speak with a Hartford estate planning lawyer regarding a power of attorney. We understand that this is a time in your life when important decisions are being made. We will make your case a priority and give you the attention you deserve. We are proud of the service we have provided to our community, and we look forward to being of assistance. Contact us online or by telephone today. We also service the areas of Wethersfield, New Britain, Rocky Hill, East and West Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, and Manchester, as well as the Middlesex County cities of Middletown and Cromwell.