Did I commit the crime “Breach of Trust”?

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Did I commit the crime “Breach of Trust”?

My mother had durable power of attorney over her mother (my Grandmother). My Grandmother received an insurance check for $2,780 to fix her roof. My Grandmother did not want her daughter Susan (my mother) to have any knowledge of the check much less any money. As she was suspicious why she never had any disposable cash left over. My Grandmother upon receiving the check had no I.D to cash the check so I signed for her to get the moneys. The moneys were then placed in my Grandmothers possession. My mother found out that I had signed for her to cash her own check and charged me with breach of trust! My mother no longer has Power of Attorney . We the family has discovered she has been paying her bills and keeping the rest! For the month of May she kept $600! Was this criminal on my part? Be advised…This rabbit hole runs much deeper! She also had the deed placed in her name prior to her power of attorney! She has her claws in everything she has!

Asked on June 2, 2009 under Criminal Law, South Carolina

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

The "rabbit hole" always runs much deeper in cases like this, and I'm sure more and more will come to light, as you look into this.

Unless that power of attorney was exclusive, which is extremely unusual, your grandmother still had the right to act for herself, in addition to allowing your mother to do that.  So it doesn't sound to me like you committed any crime at all; if you are actually being charged with this, you should see a qualified criminal defense attorney in your area.

More importantly, you and the rest of the family need to see an elder law attorney, for your grandmother, as soon as possible.  A power of attorney is not a license to take the person's money for your own use, as you have said your mother has been doing.  It may well be possible to force your mother to give it all back, and to take her name off the deed, depending on the facts that you can prove and the laws of your state.  One place to find qualified lawyers, for your grandmother and for your own criminal charges if any, is our website, http://attorneypages.com


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