Is a Power of Attorney Valid After Death?

Sep 21, 2011

If you’ve been serving as a power of attorney agent for a loved one who has recently died, you may wonder if your duties still carry on after death.  For example, if you’ve been handling financial duties for a significant time period, you may figure that you should just continue; however, legally, you cannot continue to serve as agent after the principal dies.  Take a look at the following information, to better understand your role.  If you have any questions about your responsibilities as a financial power of attorney agent, contact an estate planning attorney.

 

A power of attorney document is valid only during the principal’s lifetime, not after death.  The power of attorney gives an individual the ability to appoint an agent to help make decisions and to handle business affairs and assets; a power of attorney document is very beneficial because it makes it possible for an individual to have his affairs handled, even during incapacity.  However, the authority for this document ends when the principal revokes it by choice or when he dies.  After the principal dies, the named agent no longer has authority.

 

This means that if you’ve been an agent for a loved one, you’re unable to help handle estate affairs after your loved one dies without additional authority.  Your agent duties only exist during your loved one’s lifetime.  After your loved one dies, the executor of his estate will step up and take charge of financial decisions and other estate affairs.  Additionally, if the individual has a trust, his trustee will also have authority to act in trust matters.  Unless you’re named as executor and/or trustee, you’re unable to help make additional financial decisions and will no longer have legal access to financial records or documents.

 

It’s important to fully understand when the power of attorney document is effective.  If you have any additional questions about how a power of attorney document works, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.

 

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