A 92-year-old Ohio veteran gave his eldest daughter general power of attorney in 2004, but unbeknownst to him, the daughter used her position to transfer the deed to his home into her name shortly thereafter. In 2010, John Potter learned that his daughter had transferred the deed to herself and fired her, replacing her with his granddaughter. But the damage had been done, and earlier this year Mr. Potter’s daughter moved to have him evicted from the home.
When you create a power of attorney, you give tremendous authority to your agent, also known as an attorney-in-fact. State laws recognize how important this position is and require someone named an agent to act under the requirements of a fiduciary duty. A fiduciary duty requires that the agent act in the principal’s best interests and to not misuse his or her authority under the power of attorney.
In Mr. Potter’s case, it appears that his daughter misused her position. But, after Mr. Potter took his daughter to court and won, an appeals court overturned his victory because the four-year statute of limitations had expired in the case.
However, because the story has garnered widespread attention, thousands of people have donated money to Mr. Potter so he can purchase back the home that he had built himself so many years ago. Soon after celebrating his 92nd birthday in May, Mr. Potter learned that he had received over $138,000 in donations, enough money to buy back his home.
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