You are not alone if you haven't thought about what will happen to your finances after death. In the United States, two out of every three people do not have important death planning documentation. However, failing to plan can make life more difficult and uncomfortable for you and your family. A "power of attorney" is an excellent example. We all require this form of legal document as we age and face the prospect of losing our ability to properly care for ourselves. A power of attorney gives someone else the authority to manage part or all of your financial requirements and health care decisions while you are still alive. A power of attorney, however, expires upon your death.
What Is A Power Of Attorney After Death?
You, the "principal," appoint someone to act on your behalf in financial, legal, and medical affairs when you submit a power of attorney. Your "agent" is the person you select. There are several power of attorney documents available, and you can grant as much or as little authority as you like. For example, you could specify that your agent can access your bank account to pay your bills and buy groceries, but not for any other purpose. You could even create a power of attorney that does not take effect unless you become incompetent or incapable.
Choosing A Power Of Attorney After Death
A consultation with an attorney can help you determine which sort of power of attorney you may require. Your attorney can tailor power of attorney forms to your specific need. Powers of attorney fall into several major categories, including:
- Durable Power Of Attorney: This permits your agent to continue making the decisions you've delegated authority over even if you become incapacitated and unable to care for yourself. A Durable Power of Attorney keeps you safe and cared for if you have a stroke or other medical emergency that necessitates the services of a guardian. There is no need to quarrel in court about who will care for you and your finances if you have a durable general POA. Until your death, your agent has the authority to make such decisions for you and your estate.
- Nondurable Power Of Attorney: This allows your agent to make decisions on your behalf while you are still alive. These decisions could involve selling your home or paying your expenses while undergoing surgery and physical therapy for an accident.
- Health Care Power Of Attorney: Delegated authority to your agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. Your agent cannot overturn previously made advanced directives or living wills. However, if necessary, this agent may make all other medical decisions for you. This individual should be someone you can rely on to operate in your best interests.
- Springing Power Of Attorney: This grants an agent power of attorney upon the occurrence of a certain event. Upon a doctor's declaration of your incapacity, you could instruct your agent to begin with a durable general power of attorney. This type of power of attorney is useful when you need it the most.
What Happens When A Durable Power Of Attorney Expires?
Unless they are named executors in your valid will after death, your durable general power of attorney carers, agent as well as family members lose the capacity to manage your estate at the time of your death. Unless additionally appointed as your executor, the agents named in your power of attorney documents can no longer make decisions for your estate. If you have a will, the executor of your estate is in charge of all assets from the time of your death forward. If you die without leaving a will, a judge will appoint an administrator to settle your finances. Someone can ask the judge to be named as the administrator of an estate, but regaining access to the estate's funds can take time. If you named the same person as executor as your durable general power of attorney, that person may still have access to your estate. Otherwise, your estate's choices are made after your death by the chosen executor or administrator.
Power Of Attorney Planning
A power of attorney is an important aspect of end-of-life preparation because it protects you against a court's ability to make decisions for you if you become incapable. This legal instrument allows you to make decisions about your life and possessions by appointing a trusted agent to represent your best interests. After death, however, a power of attorney loses its authority, and decisions about your assets pass to the executor or administrator of your estate. Making a will and naming a power of attorney agent will help you feel comfortable and secure about your future and the future of your family and loved ones.