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Virginia Beach Estate Planning Lawyer / Blog / Estate Planning / Appeals Court Rules That Agent Acted in Best Interests of Deceased Client

Appeals Court Rules That Agent Acted in Best Interests of Deceased Client


When you have the power of attorney over another individual, it is important to remember that you have a fiduciary duty to act in that person’s best interests. Failure to do so can come with civil and criminal penalties. However, it’s not always obvious that an agent has acted in the best interests of their clients. In one case, Doris Williams v. Carl Boggess, Esquire in His Capacity as Agent for Margarett Ward, a trial court found in favor of a defendant agent, and an appeals court upheld that decision. Below, we’ll take a closer look at the case.

Background of the case

 According to the suit, Margarett Ward executed a durable power of attorney and named attorney Carl Boggess as her agent. For over a decade, Boggess acted as Ward’s power of attorney and managed her affairs and finances. However, during this period, Ward’s niece began to suspect that Boggess was mismanaging his client’s assets. The niece filed a petition in the Bedford Circuit Court to obtain a statutory accounting of her aunt’s finances. One of the accusations the niece made against Boggess was that he mishandled Ward’s funds causing her to be transferred from a private nursing home to a Medicaid-funded nursing home. The niece also expressed concerns that there were no longer sufficient funds to pay for Ward’s funeral and burial expenses.

The trial court dismissed the niece’s first petition because it did not make sufficient factual allegations to grant the petition. The niece filed an amended petition, but Ward died while it was pending before the court. The niece filed another amended petition with additional allegations to support the claim that Boggess had violated his fiduciary duty to Ward which, in turn, caused a loss of at least $100,000. The niece sought an order from the court to force Boggess to provide various financial receipts to her.

So, the matter before the court was whether or not the POA had to turn over financial records related to how he spent his client’s money. The niece testified that she was pursuing discovery for the “relief” and “satisfaction” of knowing her aunt had been “put away like she had asked.” Boggess argued that Ward was a very private person and that she would not want anyone to know her affairs. The niece contended that she had a right to know.

The court acknowledged that even though the niece was able to seek discovery, the court had the discretion to grant or deny the petition after considering the interests of Ward and her estate. The court denied the niece’s petition because, they argued, she did not have sufficient interest in the matter. Ultimately, the appeals court agreed and denied her request for further relief.

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The Law Office of Angela N. Manz helps individuals establish a comprehensive estate plan that meets their wishes after they pass. Call our Virginia Beach estate planning lawyers today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin making recommendations based on your wishes right away.

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