Elder Abuse by an Attorney

A person appointed under an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) to act as an Attorney for the benefit of another (usually called the Principal) is obviously placed into a position of supreme authority and trust. In situations where an Attorney begins abusing their powers to the detriment of the Principal, concerned family and friends who are not co-appointed as Attorneys might feel powerless to do anything to help.

The situation however is certainly not hopeless and within the Powers of Attorney Act, there are a number of provisions that can be used to protect the affected Principal. Here is a selection:-

  • Section 6C; contains a very useful list of a Principal’s rights including the rights to maintain contact with family/supportive relationships;
  • Section 61B; prohibits use of the EPOA to increase or decrease an expectant beneficiary’s share of the Principal’s Estate prior to the Principal’s death;
  • Section 73, 86 and 87; obligate the Attorney to keep the Principal’s property separate from their own and generally not enter into any conflict of interest transactions;
  • Section 66, 85, 81 and 122; require the Attorney to act honestly and keep records which can be audited and the Principal’s right to receive information from the Attorney; and
  • Section 82; covers what happens if the Principal’s existing Attorney resigns whilst the Attorney has impaired capacity

Any person seeking to bring a rouge Attorney under control can apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) who then has the power to summon the Attorney to a hearing and, if it is found that the Attorney has breached any of the relevant obligations imposed by the Act, QCAT has the power under Section 116 to remove the Rouge Attorney and appoint another.

Alternatively, there is also the option of simply reporting the matter to the Queensland Adult  Guardian and/or Public Trustee offices as both of these organisations are also obligated to investigate any potential instances of elder abuse.

The information in this article is merely a guide and is not a full explanation of the law.  This firm cannot take responsibility for any action readers take based on this information.  When making decisions that could affect your legal rights, please contact us for professional advice.