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Remedies when an attorney in fact behaves badly

A previous post on this blog discussed what a New Jersey resident, can do if he or she suspects that a loved one is being taken advantage of by his or her attorney in fact. To review, an attorney in fact is someone the loved one appointed via a power of attorney to handle the loved one's financial affairs.

While the previous post talked about what someone can do going forward. For instance, a person can revoke the power of attorney and stop abusive transfers of property.

Still, some damage may already be done by the time friends or relatives discover that an attorney in fact has not been fulfilling his or her responsibilities properly. As such, they may need to resort to legal claims similar to probate litigation in order to get at least some if not all of a loved one's money back. Fortunately, New Jersey law offers a couple of options in this respect.

For one, an attorney in fact can be ordered to provide what is called an accounting at the request of a number of different people. While this standing alone might not recover missing funds, seeing documentation of how the attorney in fact was managing the affairs of a loved one, or, rather, was not managing those affairs, can be valuable information and an important first step.

Moreover, it is important for a loved one to remember that an attorney in fact is in what is called a fiduciary relationship with the person who appointed him or her, as well as that person's estate. This means that if it turns out that an attorney in fact did not manage the property correctly, additional legal remedies, beyond just demanding a return of the funds, are available to victims.

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