North Carolina Power of Attorney
A power of attorney (POA) is a useful document for estate planning purposes because it allows a person to give someone else legal authority to act with respect to property. Through the North Carolina short form power of attorney, you designate an agent to handle financial affairs in the event that you cannot do so. However, even when you believe you’ve chosen a responsible, credible individual to act as your agent, POA misuse and abuse can occur. You could lose a considerable amount of money or incur significant debt when your agent engages in such misconduct.
Fortunately, North Carolina law does provide you with legal options. Our POA misuse attorneys at Howard Stallings have extensive experience representing clients who suffer losses because of an agent’s wrongdoing. Please contact our office to schedule a consultation regarding your situation, and read on for some important information about your rights.
Potential Claims for POA Misuse
The North Carolina Department of Justice has an entire division dedicated to preventing financial exploitation of the elderly through abuses of powers of attorney. However, these efforts to hold offenders accountable are criminal in nature. Criminal charges, jail sentences, and fines will not compensate for the losses you suffer.
There are other legal remedies available by law, such as civil lawsuits for:
Breach of Fiduciary Duty: A POA establishes a fiduciary relationship between you and the agent you designate to handle your financial affairs. The North Carolina Uniform Power of Attorney Act specifically states that an agent must act in good faith on behalf of the principal. Any violation of the statute is breach of fiduciary duty, so you may have a lawsuit based upon the breach of fiduciary duty.
Conversion: This form of POA misuse is akin to theft, where your agent uses your property in a manner inconsistent with your ownership rights. Conversion can be a challenging claim, since many POAs cover a wide range of acts that are legal when an agent has legal authority.
Fraud: In some situations, your POA agent could make false or misleading statements that amount to fraud. These misrepresentations could lead you to part with money or items of value that you wouldn’t have given up – had you known the full set of facts communicated by your agent, a person you trust.
With any of these causes of action, intense investigation and review of the agent’s actions is critical. Our lawyers know how to spot the signs of misconduct, and can determine how to proceed based upon your circumstances.
Monetary Damages Compensate for Your Losses
If you suffered losses because of POA misuse or abuse, you may have legal remedies via a civil lawsuit. It’s possible to recover monetary damages for:
- The value of what was misappropriated from you, plus interest;
- Attorneys’ fees;
- Court costs; and,
- Punitive damages, in some cases.
Contact Our Attorneys in Raleigh, New Bern or Morehead City
Our clients seeking representation in POA misuse matters trust Howard Stallings to advocate to mitigate their potential losses. Our reputation for litigation throughout North Carolina speaks for itself. Call us today at 919-821-7700 or contact our office online. Free parking is available at our locations.