- Improvident and self-benefiting transactions by attorneys acting under an Enduring Power of Attorney are seemingly on the rise.
- The Guardianship Division of NCAT provides a fast, cheap and effective means to quickly disempower an attorney if necessary.
- Retrieval of property improperly disposed of currently requires application to the Equity Division of the Supreme Court.
The incidence of errant attorneys abusing the powers conferred on them by their trusting principals is increasing. Bank accounts are raided, homes mortgaged or sold, and the proceeds difficult to trace if the attorney is uncooperative or absent. Sometimes, alarm bells are raised earlier by a family member who gets wind of an imminent improvident transaction.
What can you do?
If your legal advice is sought, you should:
- carefully identify your client, especially if you drafted the power of attorney. Is he or she the principal or attorney or a concerned relative?
- recall Solicitor’s Rule No.1 – above all else, act in your client’s best interests as you see them;
- assess the risk – if major assets are about to be transferred, a quick telephone call or stern letter to the attorney may suffice;
- if the assets have already been transferred, then assist your client in applying to NCAT or represent them on appeal;
- consider applying to NCAT yourself if there is absolutely no-one else willing and able.