Judge looking at two lawyersThis is the third post in our series on how to challenge a Power of Attorney in Hartford and other Connecticut areas. My last article discussed the grounds on which you can set aside a Power of Attorney. It is important to understand the legal process regarding these types of matters and why acting promptly is necessary to protect vulnerable individuals. If you know someone who is abusing their power as an agent under a Power of Attorney, it is imperative to speak to counsel as soon as possible. Retaining an experienced probate lawyer can prevent the agent from continuing to make poor or damaging decisions. If you or someone you love needs assistance, then contact our office to schedule an initial consultation.

Immediately challenging a Power of Attorney prevents further damage

A Power of Attorney allows an individual, the principal, to grant authority to another, the agent, to make decisions on their behalf. The document will dictate whether the powers granted are broad or limited to certain circumstances. It is common for most people to execute a Durable Power of Attorney that grants broad powers to an agent. This type of Power of Attorney is useful in the situation of incapacity because it legally allows the agent to step into the shoes of the principal and take care of all financial matters. This will prevent the more complex process of a conservatorship. However, due to the extensive nature of the powers granted, there is also risk for abuse by the agent. The agent will have the right to sell property, manage investments, and access all financial accounts without the oversight of the Probate Court. Once an agent is no longer acting in the interest of the principal, it is imperative to act quickly to prevent further damage by the agent.

For example, if an agent is acting on behalf of an incapacitated elderly adult, there will likely not be oversight over the actions of the agent. This allows the agent unfettered access to the cash and investments of the principal and allows them to dilute the accounts for their own needs. Once the principal’s funds run out, the principal may be required to sell their home and enter a facility for care. This has a substantial impact on the principal and their quality of life. The only recourse against the agent is to seek recovery of the funds, but the agent may have already spent the money. If the agent has no assets of their own, there is little else the principal can do to recover what they have lost.

Retain a Hartford Attorney immediately if you wish to challenge a Power of Attorney

If you believe an agent acting under a Power of Attorney is abusing their power, it is important to immediately speak with a lawyer. An attorney experienced in these types of matters will be able to act quickly. The process of challenging a Power of Attorney is a formal proceeding in Probate Court. The first step requires a Petition to be filed with the Court. The Petition must contain the requisite information and provide proper notice to the adverse party to begin the formal proceeding. Additionally, the Petition will need to request that an Injunction be granted by the Judge to protect against further damage until the matter can be litigated. An Injunction is an order that will prohibit the agent from acting and prevent their access to the principal’s finances. In some cases, the Court may hold a hearing within as little as a few days to grant the Injunction. After the initial filing, the parties will have the opportunity to undergo a process of discovery to obtain information. If the matter is unable to be settled or resolved, the Court will require a bench trial to reach a final determination. The Judge’s order may include a finding that the agent abused their duties under the law, and the Judge can award damages to the injured party. Additionally, the Court will need to address the status of the Power of Attorney and determine whether to leave it in place or grant other relief to address the needs of the incapacitated party.

If you or someone you know needs assistance with challenging a Power of Attorney, it is crucial to speak with experienced counsel. We understand the complicated issues surrounding the challenge of a Power of Attorney and will act promptly to take the necessary legal steps. Contact our office to speak with a Hartford probate lawyer. We also serve the areas of Wethersfield, New Britain, Rocky Hill, West and East Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, and Manchester, as well as the Middlesex County cities of Middletown and Cromwell.