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Can you contest a power of attorney?

Your loved one may have appointed an agent through a power of attorney (POA) to ensure their affairs are well managed if they become incapacitated. Therefore, you have a right to be concerned about the agent’s actions or even the validity of the POA. In such a case, can you contest the POA if it takes effect?

The short answer is yes. A POA is a legal document that must be executed right to be valid. Additionally, the POA owes the agent a fiduciary duty, meaning they must act in the best interests of the person who appointed them (the principal). You can challenge an agent’s authority based on these legal aspects.

Challenging the validity of the POA

As mentioned, a POA is a legal contract. It must meet specific legal requirements to become enforceable. For instance, a POA must be notarized or signed by at least two competent witnesses under California law. Otherwise, it will not be recognized. 

Other grounds for contesting a legally binding agreement, such as undue influence, lack of capacity or fraud, may also be applicable depending on the circumstances of your case.

Concerns about the agent’s actions

If you believe the agent is not acting in the best interests of the principal, it could amount to a breach of fiduciary duty. You can take legal action to recover the losses and even relieve them of their authority. This could include instances of financial mismanagement, neglect or making decisions contrary to your loved one’s wishes.

The legal process in a nutshell involves filing a court petition outlining your reasons for challenging the POA, notifying the interested party of a court hearing and the actual proceedings where both sides present their evidence and arguments. If you suspect your agent is not doing things right, consider taking prompt action and urgently seek legal guidance.