Power of attorney (sometimes called POA) is an agreement in which one person allows another to have the right to act on his behalf in legal and financial matters. The intent is for those who cannot or may have difficulty acting on their own behalf to appoint a secondary agent. The POA holder is supposed to act in the principal's best financial or legal interests. If you suspect that this is not the case, you may have grounds to contest the power of attorney.
Be sure that you have grounds to contest a POA. Technical grounds would be issues with the witnesses, notarization or preparation of the POA papers. Forgery of any of the signatures on the POA papers would be another reason to contest a POA. You might also have a case if the principal was not in a mentally sound state when the signature was made. On the other hand, if the POA holder has not been acting in the best interests of the principal, you also may have grounds to contest a POA.
Gather evidence to present in court, including statements from witnesses or doctors who can attest that the principal was not in a sound mental sound when signing the POA agreement. If the signatures were forgeries, you should have several copies of the principal's signature and consider hiring a handwriting expert. If you suspect that the POA holder has been abusing his power of attorney, provide concrete evidence in the form of financial and legal records.
File a motion with the civil court in the municipality where the original power of attorney was signed. Filing fees vary, depending on the location. You will be given a date and time for a hearing.
Serve the POA holder with legal notice of the court hearing. You can do it yourself or have another person do it. However, you may be asked to provide proof that you delivered the notice. Consider using a professional process server or sending the notice via certified mail.
Arrive at the court hearing on time and with all evidence in hand, including any witnesses or experts you need to prove your point. Present your case to the judge in as calm and professional matter as possible. Although some courts may rule immediately, be prepared to wait several weeks to receive a ruling in those municipalities that deliver them by mail.
Contesting a POA can be a long and complicated process. Consider hiring an attorney to advise you and make the process smoother.
Tips and warnings
- Contesting a POA can be a long and complicated process. Consider hiring an attorney to advise you and make the process smoother.