It is possible to abuse a power of attorney for inheritance hijacking. While it is not lawful for an agent who is given authority under a power of attorney to hijack an inheritance, it happens anyway. Often, heirs are unaware that their inheritance has been taken from them or they are aware of it but do not know what to do about the fact they are receiving less money and less property than they should be entitled to receive.
A power of attorney lawyer can help people to create a legally valid power of attorney and to select an agent in order to reduce the chances of a hijacking happening. You need to make sure that the person you name as your agent is someone who you feel can be absolutely trusted to do the right thing by your heirs.
An experienced attorney can also provide invaluable assistance in helping to pursue legal action when inheritance hijacking occurs. If an agent abuses his authority, there are serious consequences. The agent can be required by law to compensate heirs for money and property which was improperly removed from the estate. An attorney can help to find out whether an agent acted appropriately by assisting with an investigation and with finding experts like forensic accountants to track missing funds. An attorney can also provide assistance to heirs who wish to actually pursue a case based on inheritance hijacking.
Parman & Easterday, LLP has extensive experience with the use of a power of attorney for inheritance hijacking. Give our Parman & Easterday lawyers a call today to find out more about how we can help.
Using a Power of Attorney for Inheritance Hijacking
Oklahoma has a statutory form which can be used to create a power of attorney. When a legally valid power of attorney is created using this form or other appropriate legal documents, the power of attorney vests tremendous power in an agent who is chosen when the power of attorney is created. Depending upon how the power of attorney was created, the agent may get immediate authority to manage all of a person’s financial affairs; may get immediate but more limited authority; or may get delayed authority with a springing power of attorney.
Once an agent has been given authority, he or she can sell property; access and use money in the accounts of the person who created the power of attorney; and otherwise act on behalf of the person who created the power of attorney. This could include entering into contracts or business relationships.
If the person with power of attorney abuses his or her authority, he could end up diverting funds and property from the rightful owners to himself or could otherwise use his trusted role to benefit his own interests. Heirs may not get as much money because by the time the deceased person dies, his will is probated, and money and property transfer according to the deceased person’s instructions, the person with the power of attorney may have already spent money and transferred property.
Agents have a fiduciary duty not to misuse the deceased person’s assets or to act in their own self interest. When and if inheritance hijacking occurs and a person uses his authority under a power of attorney to strip an estate of its value, this can result in a legal claim against the agent. Those who would have inherited a larger sum of money or more valuable property if the agent hadn’t abused his authority can get legal help pursuing a damage claim.
Getting Help with Protecting an Inheritance
You owe it to yourself to protect your inheritance. If you suspect that anyone is using a power of attorney for inheritance hijacking, you need to take legal action. An estate planning attorney can help you to understand the duty owed by an agent who was given authority by a power of attorney. Parman & Easterday has extensive experience handling cases in which an agent has failed to fulfill his obligations and we can pursue a claim against an agent who hijacked an inheritance with the authority provided to him.
We also provide assistance to agents in making sure their duties are correctly fulfilled; as well as to anyone who is considering the creation of a power of attorney and who wants to make sure their estate is protected. Give us a call today to speak with an estate planning lawyer who can assist with all issues related to power of attorney for inheritance. You can reach us at (405) 703-9987 or (913) 385-9400 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help.