The misappropriation of funds by an attorney can sometimes also be a criminal matter in some cases. we can speak with you about this when you call. It may be necessary to involve victoria police in some cases.
Sadly, some Attorneys abuse their powers as attorney to misappropriate funds for their own benefit. Stephanie Rendell, Associate Solicitor and Head of the RNG Lawyers Wills & Estates Team, explains what you can do if you suspect an attorney has taken money or assets inappropriately from you or a loved one.
Attorneys under an Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters in Victoria have broad powers to handle the financial affairs of the Principal who appointed them, subject to the terms of the Enduring Power of Attorney document itself.
The position of Attorney comes with a lot of trust and we strongly recommend that you carefully consider who you appoint.
Attorneys have duties and responsibilities under law as well as fiduciary duties. The duties of an Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters under the Powers of Attorney Act 2014 include that they must:
Act honestly, diligently and in good faith;
Exercise reasonable skill and care;
Not use the position for profit (except for remuneration as provided under the Act);
Avoid acting where there is or may be a conflict of interest unless the document signed by them so authorises;
Not disclose confidential information gained in the role of attorney unless authorised by the power or by Law; and
Keep accurate records and accounts.
Unfortunately, some Attorneys take advantage of their position and can misappropriate funds either by negligence or wilful deceit. If you suspect that an attorney has misappropriate funds, there are steps that you can take.
If the attorney is appointed for yourself and you have decision making capacity, we strongly recommend that you seek urgent legal advice. RNG Lawyers can assist you to revoke appointment as well as to bring any legal claims required for compensation should your suspicions be founded.
If your attorney's powers are revoked, it important that you act urgently to notify them and all relevant organisations of the revocation. RNG Lawyers can assist you in this process.
If you have suspicions about the misappropriation of someone else’s money, there are still steps that you can take.
If the person who has been stolen from has their decision making capacity, we recommend that you use your discretion to notify them of your suspicions and it is usually (but not always) up to them what they choose to do with that information. We can assist you in this if required.
If the person who has been stolen from does not have decision making capacity, we strongly recommend that you contact RNG Lawyers for urgent advice.
RNG Lawyers has extensive experience with Enduring Powers of Attorney. In our experience, most attorneys do the right thing. We have experience however with attorneys who have done the wrong thing. We can assist in applications in VCAT for compensation and any other applications necessary to compensate or rectify decisions made inappropriately by the Attorney.