What can be done if a POA abused their power?

UPDATED: Aug 13, 2015

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What can be done if a POA abused their power?

My sister was granted POA 3 years ago for my mother but it was taken back last year. About 2 months ago, my mother passed and I have found that over the 3 years my sister spent $38,000 on my mothers credit card and paid it with my mother’s Trust account. Every penny was for her personal use. How can I retrieve those funds?

Asked on August 13, 2015 under Estate Planning, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If you are an interested party--which you presumably are, since you most likely have or would have inherited from your mother, and so the money misappropriated from your mother is money that would have gone to you--you can bring a lawsuit in chancery court asking the court to have the attorney-in-fact (also called the agent; i.e. the person with authority under the POA, or your sister) "account" for her actions and expenditures. Attorneys-in-fact have a fiduciary duty to their principals (your mother): an obligation to act in the principal's interest, and not for the attorney-in-fact's own benefit. If a court finds that your sister did abuse her power, it could require her to repay the money she took to the estate, where it will be distributed to the heirs. and beneficiaries.

A lawsuit like this is more complicated than, say, suing a contractor for breach of contract in small claims court (or suing for nonpayment of some debt, or for damage from a "fender bender"); you are advised to retain an attorney to help you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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