Most people in New York and across the country offer assistance to their loved ones as they age. From offering help doing daily chores to finding affordable health care options, there are a countless number of ways in which we can offer our loved ones help during a time in their lives when they perhaps need it the most.

But there are instances in which helping can turn to hurting. Take for instance a family member who takes on the responsibility of power of attorney. There have been cases across the country of family members who have abused this privilege, wreaking havoc on an elderly person’s finances and their lives in the process. In today’s post, we’d like to caution our Brooklyn readers about this very real problem by explaining what it is and the legal remedies a victim or their family may have.

In order to recognize when an elderly loved one is a victim of power of attorney abuse, you should first understand what it is. According to the American Bar Association, POA abuse, also sometimes referred to as durable power of attorney abuse or DPA abuse, occurs when an agent (the person acting as the power of attorney) misuses the authority granted to them by the principal (the person who grants power of attorney over specific legal matters).

POA abuse can take many forms but primarily, any agent who does not act in a trustworthy manner or who does not make decisions that are in the principal’s best interests could be found guilty of POA abuse.

So what legal remedies can a victim, or their family, seek?

One of the more obvious remedies is through civil litigation. Skilled estate planning attorneys with a background in elder law are of particular help in these situations, explaining the law and the legal recourse that can be taken. In some cases, it may be necessary to take things one step further and take criminal action. Because this can be a lengthy and complicated process, it’s a good idea to seek legal representation for this as well.