Your elderly parent just paid for a totally impractical sports car for a new live-in caregiver, and you suspect power of attorney forgery. What now?
Your parent could indeed be a victim of power of attorney forgery if:
- a family member has dementia
- is disabled, feeble, or easily swayed
- money needed for bills or care is being misused (sports car vs wheelchair van?).
Of course, just disagreeing with financial decisions is not power of attorney forgery. Your loved one has some financial obligations: supporting their spouse or minor children, helping adult children complete their schooling, or caring for an adult financially dependant on them because of illness or disability. Otherwise, their money is their own.
But when a legal document appears false, it’s time to hire an expert to probe for power of attorney forgery.
It’s Power of Attorney Forgery When
- A false document was knowingly and intentionally made by altering a genuine power of attorney.
- A false date, attestation, seal or other material thing was added.
- Parts were erased, removed, or otherwise altered.
- The forger misleads others to believe the power of attorney is genuine.
Draft Wills and power of attorney in Ontario.
Can You Forge a Power of Attorney?
No, even if you think a mentally incompetent person would have consented. A power of attorney forgery will ultimately be overturned in court.
Regardless of your motives, you’ll be liable for returning any assets you took. Your legal expenses, public embarrassment, and any punitive damages awarded by the court all add up to more hassle than it’s worth.
Then there’s the possible criminal record.
Stopping a Power of Attorney Forgery
What happens if someone forges a power of attorney can be complicated. Proving power of attorney forgery requires trusted or legally authorized parties to show it is more probable than not that:
- The victim is or was mentally incompetent due to age, dementia, or disability, and could not have legally signed a power of attorney.
- They are or were competent, and the signature is not theirs.
- The signature is theirs, but they didn’t sign that document.
- They were subjected to undue influence or pressure to sign.
Family, friends, a lawyer, or a public agency like the Ontario Public Trustee and Guardian face a steep test in court. That’s where hiring a forensics expert on forged signatures comes in.
Probate a Will in seven steps.
Proving Power of Attorney Forgery Using Forensics
Forensic document analysts review a suspected power of attorney forgery for evidence a signature doesn’t match the original writer’s. They give their opinion on whether it was traced, or digitally created or altered using software like Adobe Photoshop.
Handwriting analysts look for telltale differences that expose a forgery, like differences in how characters are written, or how light a signature is. They prepare a professional report to inform the judge if a signature appears to have been scanned, or cut and pasted into position.
Questions to ask your probate lawyer.
Finding Experts for Court Testimony
Look for forensic services with document and handwriting analysts who:
- have formal training
- lecture or do university-level research
- have awards from peers, like forensic associations
- or present at professional events in their field.
Googling Ontario Superior Court of Justice decisions to see if forensic reports or testimony have been accepted in past is helpful. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee your challenge will be successful.
What Happens If a Power of Attorney Steals Money
Power of attorney disputes may be dealt with in civil court, or elevated to criminal court if the Crown (government) intervenes. Depending on what went on, the outcome can be a court order to return funds to the estate, or criminal sentence. That’s if you can prove it. For civil court, a theft has to be more probable than not. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the criminal standard.
What is Considered Abuse of Power of Attorney?
Forging a signature is not the only way abuse of power of attorney can occur.
- Borrowing money without consent, or transferring assets into someone else’s name or accounts, are financially abusive.
- A power of attorney who makes insulting or demeaning comments, or suggests your family member is “not all there” is being psychologically abusive.
- Denying food, heat, personal care, or withholding medications can be just as dangerous as physical abuse.
Get Power of Attorney Legally in Ontario
Create a power of attorney (or more than one) document at the same time as you write a new Will with Axess Law. Already have a Will you’re satisfied with? We can prepare powers of attorney for property (finances) or personal care for a modest fee.
Waiting to assign power of attorney can cause long-term grief if you are suddenly incapacitated. When you make a power of attorney for property with your Will, you ensure your family, lawyer, accountant, or a trusted friend know where to turn when it comes to managing your banking, making investments, or everyday tasks like making mortgage payments.
Find a power of attorney lawyer near me.
Your hygiene, diet, medication regime, and housing can all be handled by a power of attorney for personal care when you plan ahead. Instead of leaving the details to an Ontario court to sort out, you know in advance who will care for you if you become infirm.
Get a Will and power of attorney for Ontario.
Try Our Virtual Legal Services
No need to put off making your Will if time is an issue for you. Now you can access lawyers from your home or office, at times convenient for you.
Sign legal documents without leaving home.
Your Axess Law Wills and estates lawyer goes online with you anywhere in Ontario to draft new Wills and powers of attorney. Your Will is made using only secure, online video conferencing software. Once you’re satisfied with your basic Will, drop into any Axess Law location in Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa to sign. We give you a copy for your records, and if desired, for a small, one-time fee we can keep the original in our Wills storage.
Your First Probate Consultation is Free!
Probating a Will doesn’t have to be painful. At Axess Law, your first probate consultation is free. We help you apply for a certificate of appointment of estate trustee, and prepare simple documents for estate administration taxes.
What is a probate lawyer?
Online or Phone Appointments for Wills or Probate
Make your own appointments using Axess Law’s easy online booking form. Talk to a live operator to find lawyers for Wills or probate near you by phoning our 1-647-479-0118 lawyer line, or toll free to 1-877-402-4207. Axess Law has onsite parking and easy transit access to our Greater Toronto area or Ottawa law offices.