How Can I Prove My Uncle Is Misusing His Power of Attorney?

By Anna Assad

A power of attorney allows one person, the principal, to give authority to another person, the agent, to act on her behalf. The principal gives the authority in writing and on a document known as the power of attorney. An agent is supposed to follow the principal's directions, act in good faith and not overstep the authority the principal gives him. If your uncle is misusing his power of attorney and hurting the principal, you'll need to determine what powers he has and review your state's laws to prove it.

Limited or General Powers

A principal may give an agent general or limited powers. An agent with limited powers may only do what the power of attorney document allows. For example, if the document limits the powers to activities necessary to complete the sale of a specific house, the agent can only do those sale activities, such as signing a deed. A general power of attorney gives the agent broader powers. He might have the power to complete all the principal's real estate transactions. State laws vary on what general powers an agent can receive without an express written statement in the document. For example, in Colorado, an agent can't give gifts for the principal unless the power of attorney specifically states he has gift-giving authority.


Abuse of a power attorney occurs when the agent is using his authority beyond what the power of attorney allows or doing something that's not in the principal's best interest. If the agent, for instance, sells the principal's home using the power of attorney and then uses the proceeds for himself, he's abusing his authority. An agent has a legal duty to act in good faith and with due diligence, treating the principal's assets as he would his own while keeping in mind the assets belong to the principal.

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now


The court will generally look to the power of attorney's provisions and state laws to determine whether abuse occurred. Some states presume undue influence on the principal if the agent is in a position of power over the principal, such as her caregiver. If you suspect your uncle is misusing his powers, you'll need to gather evidence showing he's not acting in the principal's best interest or overstepping his granted authority.

Proving Misuse

Financial documents showing transactions your uncle made and statements from other people with knowledge of his activities, such as family friends, may help you prove your case. If you can't see the original power of attorney, try to find a copy so you know what powers he received. The principal or another trusted relative or friend may have the power of attorney or a copy. A business or financial institution where your uncle used his authority may have a copy of it on file.


The avenues available for stopping power of attorney abuse vary by state and the age of the principal. Power of attorney abuse may be a civil matter, but some states have criminal elder abuse laws that may apply if the principal is a senior citizen. For example, financial fraud involving a victim over the age of 64 is a criminal offense in California. You may speak to an elder law or civil attorney or contact your state's senior citizen help agency for assistance.

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now
Laws for Power of Attorney in New Hampshire


Related articles

Can a Person With Power of Attorney for Another Profit From the Sale of a House?

A power of attorney is created when a person -- the principal -- creates a document giving authority to a third party – the agent – to accomplish tasks on his behalf. The agent’s authority can be very broad or narrowed to just one area. When an agent has authority to sell the principal’s home, he must act in the principal’s best interests.

What Is Financial Power of Attorney Abuse?

When you, as a principal, create a power of attorney, you give your agent a significant amount of authority to conduct transactions on your behalf. Since your agent has so much authority, it may be easy for him to abuse the power of attorney to act in his own best interests rather than yours. However, state laws can provide protection against abuses, and you can incorporate safeguards into your power of attorney to help deter abuse.

Power of Attorney Guidelines for State of Oregon

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf if you become incompetent of incapacitated. The Oregon Revised Statutes set forth the requirements for a valid power of attorney, who may serve as your agent and how the power of attorney may be used.

Related articles

Can You Sell a Home With a Power of Attorney?

Depending on state laws, powers of attorney can give an agent broad powers over someone’s finances and property. With a ...

What Happens if Two People on a Power of Attorney Disagree?

When a person, known as the principal, creates a financial or medical power of attorney, she may name two agents and ...

How to Grant a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document in which a person, known as the principal, authorizes legal authority to ...

Michigan Durable Power of Attorney

Michigan law recognizes a durable power of attorney for both financial and medical purposes. Both financial and medical ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED