Garton & Harris

Power of attorney and the abuse of the British Columbia elderly

The elderly are one of the most vulnerable groups in society. It is especially devastating when the individuals who are taking advantage of seniors are the very people seniors most trust. A power of attorney is a very powerful document in British Columbia that grants a great amount of authority to an individual or individuals who are able to make decisions on behalf of the senior who gave them that power.

Anything that is done by an individual with power of attorney that is not in the best interests of the donor can be construed as being abuse. That could mean spending the donor's money frivolously or personally. It could mean forging the donor's signature on documents. But abuse can also take the form of coercion -- forcing someone to create a power of attorney against his or her wishes.

Anyone acting on a power of attorney must keep accurate financial records and has to be able to account for the funds and property of the donor. Under the law in British Columbia, if a lawyer is acting on a power of attorney, he or she is only bound to the donor and to the Public Guardian and Trustee. He or she does not have to answer to the donor's family members.   

There are very definitive laws that accompany estate planning documents such as a power of attorney. A British Columbia lawyer might be able to prevent abuse from occurring by limiting the authority of the individual named to act on donor's behalf. An astute lawyer will make sure the document has the best interests of his or her donor client at heart.

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