While powers of attorney are essential during your lifetime, they are useless after your death. The authority granted under powers of attorney ends immediately at the principal’s death. The “principal” is the person who creates the power of attorney; so, if you execute this document, you are the principal. The person who helps you is your “agent.”
Where Trusted Helpers Get Authority to Act after Death
Once the principal has died, agents named under powers of attorney, must get authority to act from another legally valid source. Your power of attorney agent will likely be named to act on your behalf in your will and in your revocable living trust. Your former agent is now an “executor” under your will and/or a “trustee” under your trust. These legal documents now grant authority to act on your behalf.
If you have been named as agent under a power of attorney, you must stop using the power of attorney document as authority to act, upon the principal’s death. Stop immediately; you can be held personally liable if you use the power of attorney after the principal’s death; and, it’s illegal.
2 Typical Types of Powers of Attorney
All adults need at least 2 powers of attorney to stay in control and avoid court an expensive and time consuming California conservatorship process.
- The financial power of attorney permits your agent to act on your behalf to manage your day to day business and finances. Though, the power of attorney may be effective immediately, it’s usually written so that it becomes effective if and when you are incapacitated.
- The health care power of attorney authorizes a health care agent to act on your behalf if you are unable to tell your doctor what you want done.
Where to Get Help with Powers of Attorney
Always consult with a qualified estate planning attorney regarding powers of attorney. Please feel free to contact our office at (858) 792-5988 for a free consultation.