Francis Gagnon and his wife who were elderly owned a farm in Shelburne Massachusetts as well as property in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Mr. & Mrs. Gagnon had two children, Frank Gagnon and Joan Coombs. The daughter asked Mr. & Mrs. Gagnon to sign a power of attorney so she could take care of them and their property. The son did not know about this at the time and upon finding out, was quite angry. Mrs. Gagnon died after the power of attorney was signed and then revoked. Joan Coombs, was unaware that the power of attorney that her parents signed was revoked. My first thought after reading the textbook as well as my own knowledge of power of attorney is that Joan Coombs, when obtaining the power of attorney, was then appointed to act as her parent’s agent. In that capacity her duty was to on in Mr. & Mrs. Gagnon’s best interest. Joan owed her parents the duty of care as well. Even if she had still had the power of attorney at the time that she transferred the property to the trust that she had made, she still was supposed to act in Mr. Gagnon’s best interest.
I noticed that it didn’t give very much information on the type of power of attorney and what rights and powers it gave her specifically, which would make this far easier to decide. From my experience, many power of attorneys that people sign or for once they become incapacitated or unable to make decisions on their own or do thing on their own behalf. Other’s care for people that are capable of taking care of things themselves but are not available or need assistance for other reasons. Since it does not specify what powers she has at what specific time I will comment on both. If this power of attorney was the first that I mentioned above, then I think that no Joan Coombs did not have the authority to transfer the property to the trust. She did not have the authority even to open a trust on behalf of her father.
I think that the property would then rightfully belong to Frank Gagnon, as both the transfer and the trust itself would not be valid. If the power of attorney was of the second variety that I mentioned above, then the situation would be a little harder to call for sure. If he had not revoked the power of attorney, then Joan Coombs would certainly have the legal authority to have started the trust on Mr. Gagnon’s behalf as well as having the legal authority for transferring any property that he owned into it.
Where this gets a little more confusing as to what the law would enforce is that the trust was revoked by Frank Gagnon prior to any transfers of property. It states that Joan was unaware of the revocation of the power of attorney, so if she had been working on Mr. Gagnon’s behalf under the assumption that there was still a valid power of attorney then I think it would be purely open to the judge’s discretion. However, since Joan was not acting in the best interest of Frank Gagnon, and more for her own benefit, then I think the transfer would not be honored and the property would still belong to Frank Gagnon. Therefore he can transfer or sell the property to whomever he wants.
Beatty, J., Samuelson, S., Bredeson, D., (2010), Introduction to Business Law, Cengage, OH