Protecting Principals From Errant Attorneys via NCAT


Richard McCullagh (a legal director at Patrick McHugh & Co Pty Ltd and adjunct lecturer in elder law at the College of Law) on behalf of The Law Society of NSW recently wrote an article is in response to the increasing incidence of errant attorneys abusing the powers conferred on them by their trusting principals.

Bank accounts are raided, homes mortgaged or sold, and the proceeds difficult to trace if the attorney is uncooperative or absent.

The central obligations of the attorney are:

  • to be alert to potential conflicts of interest with the principal and to avoid such conflicts; and

  • not to personally profit from being an attorney without the clear and informed consent of the principal.

The article highlights how the Guardianship Division of NCAT (NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal) provides a fast, cheap and effective means to quickly dis-empower an attorney if necessary.

It concludes that NCAT is an accessible and affordable means by which to quickly avert or limit improvident transactions in breach of fiduciary duties by a person appointed under an enduring power of attorney.

The Protective Division of the Supreme Court of NSW (Supreme Court) is also available but the cost, formality and time involved make that too daunting for many families.

To learn more visit: http://www.ncat.nsw.gov.au/Pages/guardianship/gt_matter_about/enduring_poa.aspx

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