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Julie Garber

What Are the Duties of Your Power of Attorney After You Die?

By January 30, 2013

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Sorry, this is a trick question, but it comes up frequently. Here's the scenario: mom or dad has recently passed away and the son or daughter, who is named as the parent's agent in a power of attorney and executor in the parent's last will and testament, wants to know the steps required to access mom's or dad's bank accounts, sell the house, etc. When I explain to the son or daughter that because the bank accounts and house are titled in mom's or dad's sole name, the will has to be filed for probate so that the son or daughter can be appointed as the executor, then the son or daughter, as the executor, will be able to gain access to the bank accounts and sell the house, the son or daughter responds, "Well, I'm the power of attorney, so I can write checks to pay bills and close out the bank accounts and list the house for sale."

Actually, no, the son or daughter cannot use their parent's Power of Attorney after mom or dad has died because the authority granted to the son or daughter by their parent through the Power of Attorney unfortunately died with mom or dad. After death, authority to act on a deceased parent's behalf is granted by a probate court. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as a small estate that does not require an executor, or the parent's use of a revocable living trust in which a successor trustee steps into the shoes of parent after he or she dies, but these exceptions are limited.

So what are the duties of your Power of Attorney after you die? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

October 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm
(1) Jan Colbert says:

I am questioning the power of attorney for my ex husband, his sister – if she still has the power even though he is compentent, is she responsible for his debts (ie my monthly alimony)?

This was court ordered and was to be done two months ago and I still have not seen my money.


December 30, 2013 at 9:21 pm
(2) Doc says:

It depends. What is the language in the POA relative to debts? Court-ordered liabilities? Arrearages? Has the POA expired? Is the state involved in any collection process?

Regardless of whom pays the alimony or support, your husband is still mandated to make payments, or risks a violation order from the court. Your ex husband cannot rely on his sister to avoid personal liability or responsibility.

Also, with the POA, and depending upon state law, she steps into his shoes legally as an officer of the court. This might make her just as liable for his non-actions.

March 18, 2014 at 11:24 am
(3) bennett says:

but what if My parent and I have alwalys shared bank acoount or joint account i am basically on everything

April 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm
(4) Gregory Baker says:

I was POA for my great Aunt who passed about 6 years ago. No other family as I was the only living relative. I still get a bank statement on her account, checking and CD, each month with me as POA on the statement.

Does the bank just get to keep the money (about 32K)?
If not what process can I pursue to claim the money in the account?
In Texas probate is up to 4 years and we are well past that.

Thank you.

April 16, 2014 at 8:06 pm
(5) Julie Ann Garber, Esq. says:

Gregory, check out the Texas Unclaimed Property website to find out what procedure is required to claim the funds.

Best regards,

Julie Ann Garber, Esq.
Guide to Wills & Estate Planning
About.com | Need. Know. Accomplish.

The information contained in this comment is not legal or tax advice and is not a substitute for legal or tax advice. For legal advice, please consult with an attorney. For tax advice, please consult with an accountant or tax attorney.

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