What To Do When A Representative Is Accused Of Stealing From An Estate

Under New York state statute § 5-1513, an adult in Nassau County can give durable power of attorney to another adult authorizing them to make financial (not medical) decisions on their behalf. The adult who gives durable power of attorney is known as the principal, and the adult who gets power of attorney is known as the representative. A durable power of attorney is especially beneficial to the aging who may need assistance with managing their finances, from help with paying bills to managing their estate.

The principal can give power of attorney to any adult of their choosing and may revoke power of attorney at any time of their choosing if they are of sound mind. Otherwise, a court would remove the power of attorney if the representative is found to have abused their power and broken the law.

If a representative takes the principal’s money for themselves or spends it without the principal’s interests in mind, a family court judge may remove them as representative and order them to pay the money back. However, they also may be charged with crimes like larceny, embezzlement, forgery, or fraud.
Most representatives act in the best interests of their principals and behave lawfully. However, even the most trusted and faithful of representatives could be accused of breaking the law.

Sometimes, a representative is falsely accused of improperly handling the principal’s estate. For example, other family members may want control. They may worry about inheritances. They may think the representative has undue influence on the principal. Heirs may worry that the representative will trick the principal to revise their will. There may be disagreements over how the money should be spent on the principal’s behalf. A common scenario is one sibling without power of attorney accusing the representative sibling of mishandling their parent’s estate. The conflict could also be between stepparent and stepchild. Sometimes, a principal with dementia or confusion accuses the representative of stealing their money or estate.

An accusation doesn’t mean the accused is guilty, and it doesn’t mean that a representative automatically loses power of attorney. Only a judge can take that away, and only a criminal court of law can find someone guilty of a crime.

If you are a representative accused of mishandling a principal’s estate or stealing their money or assets, the first thing to do is contact a criminal defense lawyer in Nassau County. There are many types of lawyers, and most specialize in one area of law. While they are all lawyers, you want the best lawyer for the particular job. A criminal defense lawyer has the specific skills, knowledge, and experience to defend, advise, and represent you in a matter like this. A criminal defense attorney in Nassau County is the best choice if you or the principal reside here.

Having a defense attorney at your side will help you make the proper decisions and protect your rights so you can get back to the business of caring for your loved one and their estate.

This article was contributed by Sharifov & Associates, PLLC – a criminal defense law firm in Nassau County, New York.