People are often surprised when they find out that victims of abuse typically know their abuser. Usually, this is mentioned in terms of violence or sexual abuse. However, it is just as relevant to financial abuse.
When someone is awarded power of attorney for someone else’s affairs, it relies on their integrity. While they have to file a yearly report with the court to show they are not misusing the funds, the reality is there is very little control. Courts do not have the resources to carry out the checks they probably should. A 2014 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that 1 in 20 older people were victims of financial abuse.
Usually, a person names someone they know as power of attorney — someone they believe they can trust. Often it is a family member. Therefore, the chances are high that if a power of attorney abuses their authority, it is probably a family member they are harming.
Can you challenge a financial power of attorney?
If someone else controls your parent’s finances, there is no harm in maintaining an active interest in what they are doing. Many people are under increased financial pressure due to the current world situation. Someone might be tempted to “borrow” funds from the finances they control. It is still wrong, even if they fully intend to pay it back later.
If you suspect someone is abusing their powers of attorney, seek advice. It can be a delicate matter to raise, let alone take to court, especially if they are family. Yet, sometimes it is necessary to ensure the well-being of your elderly parent.