Improper Use of a Power of Attorney Instrument: Re Sangha, 2013 BCSC 1965

Mr. Ranjit Sangha prepared several legal documents to plan for a potential mental incapacity.  This included an Enduring Power of Attorney Instrument appointing his daughter, Ms. Maya Sangha, along with two of his close friends and advisors as attorneys (the “POA”). The POA stated that the attorneys must act by majority decision.  Mr. Sangha also appointed Ms. Sangha and his two other children under a Representative Agreement to look after his affairs. Ms. Sangha was Mr. Sangha’s primary Representative, and she made most of his care arrangements. Mr. Sangha became dissatisfied with the level of control Ms. Sangha had over his affairs and took steps to revoke some of her authority. He also set up a Nomination of Committee by which any of his children could apply to be named committee. The day after this occurred, Ms. Sangha petitioned the court to be named committee. She used Mr. Sangha’s credit card to pay for her application, claiming that she understood that she had her father’s permission to do so given a discussion between them that she was to manage his financial affairs and could pay any management expenses from his account. When the other attorneys and Ms. Sangha’s siblings became aware of her actions, they moved to oppose her petition and also brought a claim against her for breach of her fiduciary duty as her father’s attorney.

The BC Supreme Court found Ms. Sangha was in breach of her fiduciary obligation as an attorney acting under a power of attorney instrument. The Court noted that Ms. Sangha ignored the majority-rule provision in the POA.  She was ordered to repay the full amount she spent from her father’s accounts ($105,474.05), with interest.

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