What to do if a POA withdrew funds apparently for their own personal gain?

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What to do if a POA withdrew funds apparently for their own personal gain?

7 days before my mother died from a short illness in hospital, 1 of my sisters withdrew $20,000 from my mother’s checking account. This sister had power of attorney at the time. We do not know what she withdrew the money for but it was deposited into my sister’s account. We already had an account with the money set aside for our mother’s funeral. So we do not know why she would withdraw that large amount of money. In our mother’s Will, we will all get equal shares from her estate. Do we have any legal rights to get that $20,000 returned to be divided equally? Can we get that money back?

Asked on August 9, 2011 Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should speak with an attorney. Someone with a power of attorney operates in a fiduciary capacity. That is, he or she has to exercise the power for the benefit or in the interest of the donor of the power (your mother). That's not to say that everyone would have to agree with each course of action--there is room for discretion--but fundamentally, actions taken must be for the donor's benefit. If your sister withdrew money for her own benefit, she acted improperly and it may be able to get the money back for the estate, in which case it will then be available to be distributed as per the will. Therefore, it would seem worth it to consult with an attorney abou this situation in detail, to see exactly what  you can do. Good luck.


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