Contesting Powers of Attorney in California

Granting power of attorney allows another person to perform legal acts on your behalf, including consenting to medical treatment or selling property. By granting power of attorney, you can gain peace of mind knowing that in the event of incapacitation, your wishes can be attended to by a person you trust. Unfortunately, there are cases when the holder of power of attorney takes advantage of the person who granted power of attorney. In these cases, a third party may wish to contest power of attorney.

What is Power of Attorney?

According to California law, any “natural person having the capacity to contract may execute a power of attorney.” A person who has granted power of attorney to another person is known as the principal. They must be able to communicate the decision and understand the rights and responsibilities affected by the decision, the consequences for the decision maker, and the risks and benefits of the decision. The principal also retains the right to revoke power of attorney if he or she is mentally competent and able to communicate their wishes.

Contesting Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is typically granted by a principal to a member of their family whom they trust. However, there are times when we believe that the person granted power of attorney is no longer acting with our family member’s best interests in mind. For example, a power of attorney may be invalidated if the agent is abusing his or her authority. Examples of such abuse include stealing from the principal’s assets, neglecting the principal’s needs, or endangering the life of the principal. In these cases, it is important to consult an expert who can review the specifics of your case as your word will be pitted against the word of the person acting as a power of attorney.

Another common dispute involves challenging a power of attorney appointment on the grounds the principal was mentally competent when granting power of attorney. For the court to override the principal’s decision, you must have doctors or mental health professionals prove the principal is suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or another form of mental incapacity.

Discuss your Situation with an Experienced California Estate Planning Attorney

If you believe the person holding power of attorney for your family member is neglecting their best interests, Daniel Leahy can help. Mr. Leahy is an experienced Northern California attorney with a focus on trusts and estate law. Serving Alameda County and the surrounding area, Call the Law Offices of Daniel Leahy at (510) 985-4151 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

Daniel Leahy
About the Author: Daniel Leahy
Daniel J. Leahy specializes in trust and probate litigation. Dan’s practice includes counseling trustees administering trusts and in resolving disputes among beneficiaries and fiduciaries. Dan regularly appears in Bay Area probate courts and handles matters through trial.