Does Power of Attorney End Upon Death?

By Holly Cameron

A power of attorney is a legal document that grants authority to another person to administer all or some of your affairs. The person who grants the power of attorney is known as the principal, and the person who takes over the authority is known as the agent. Each state has its own power of attorney laws that determine the effect of death, although many follow the legal rules set out in the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, a model law that aims to unify state laws.

A power of attorney is a legal document that grants authority to another person to administer all or some of your affairs. The person who grants the power of attorney is known as the principal, and the person who takes over the authority is known as the agent. Each state has its own power of attorney laws that determine the effect of death, although many follow the legal rules set out in the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, a model law that aims to unify state laws.

Death of the Principal

Section 111 of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act provides that the power of attorney terminates when the principal dies. This rule is followed in all states. For example, Florida laws state that a power of attorney expires upon the principal’s death. In this situation, the agent no longer has authority to act on behalf of the principal, and the principal’s successors take over the management of his affairs.

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Validation of Agent's Actions

In some situations the agent may not know of the principal’s death and may continue to act under the power of attorney, for example, by paying bills or signing documents. If the agent does not know that the principal has died, the law generally allows him to continue acting as agent until he is notified of the death. For example, Chapter 1337.091 of the Ohio Code states that if an agent carries out his duties without knowing that the principal has died, his actions remain valid, provided that he acts in good faith.

Death of the Agent

The death of the agent also terminates the power of attorney. If the agent dies, the principal must sign an additional power of attorney, giving authority to another agent to deal with his affairs. Section 111 of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act provides that the power of attorney ends when the agent dies, unless the document provides for either a co-agent or a successor agent.

Co-Agent or Successor Agent

According to the Michigan State Bar, it’s good practice to include in a power of attorney the name of someone who can continue as agent if the original agent dies or becomes unable to carry out his duties. This can be done either by appointing two co-agents to act together or by appointing a successor agent if the original agent dies.

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Laws for Power of Attorney in New Hampshire

References

Related articles

Abuse of a Power of Attorney for an Incapacitated Family Member

A power of attorney is a legal expression of trust where a principal grants an agent the ability to legally act on her behalf. This may mean that the agent, otherwise known as the attorney-in-fact, can sell the principal’s assets or bind him to contracts. The power of an agent is even greater when she acts for an incapacitated family member. Abuse of that power is not just something that the agent can be sued for; it is also a crime. Powers of attorney are governed by state law, so standards may vary. There is an attempt to make standards regarding power of attorney consistent by getting all states to adopt the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. However, only 13 states have adopted the Uniform Act as of September 2012.

Kansas Statute on Power of Attorney

There are many tasks that you must do personally because of their legal or medical significance. For example, no one else can register your vehicle for you or sign your name to legal documents without formal permission from you. This formal permission is documented by a power of attorney, authorized by Article 6 of Chapter 58 of the Kansas statutes.

Florida Power of Attorney Rules

A power of attorney is a legally binding document authorizing another person to deal with all or some of your affairs. The terms of a power of attorney vary according to individual circumstances. Chapter 709 of the Florida Statutes (the Florida Power of Attorney Act) sets out the law relating to powers of attorney in the state. These laws were amended with an effective date of October 1, 2011, and the new provisions apply to powers of attorney signed on or after this date.

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