Power of Attorney and Wills

By Chris Blank

You may grant power of attorney to an individual who serves as an agent to handle your legal or financial affairs. You may also appoint someone to serve as an executor to handle the final disposition of your estate after you die. One person may serve both functions; however, there are differences between the two sets of duties.

You may grant power of attorney to an individual who serves as an agent to handle your legal or financial affairs. You may also appoint someone to serve as an executor to handle the final disposition of your estate after you die. One person may serve both functions; however, there are differences between the two sets of duties.

Power of Attorney

Someone who holds power of attorney is authorized by law to act as your agent to sign documents, access bank accounts and enter into binding contracts, according to the Free Legal Dictionary. Power of attorney may be durable, that is, it exists with no specified end date, or may apply only to a limited circumstance, such as authorizing an agent to conduct negotiations for a real estate transaction. Someone who holds power of attorney is not required to actually be an attorney, Legal Services for the Elderly states.

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Executor of a Will

An executor is an individual or institution that you appoint to execute your final wishes, including distributing your assets according to the terms of your will, according to the University of Maryland University College. The executor for a will may access bank accounts held by the deceased and may pursue legal action on behalf of the estate. The privileges of an executor extend only to the extent necessary to allow her to handle the financial and legal affairs of the deceased, such as filing the final income tax return for the deceased. Once these duties are completed and the will has gone through probate, the duties of an executor end.

Advance Directive

An advance directive is either a living will or a durable power of attorney for health related issues, specifically end-of-life care, Medline Plus states. A durable power of attorney for health care appoints an agent to act as health care proxy in the event that you are unable to communicate due to illness or traumatic injury. A living will expresses your wishes to receive or refuse life support, as well as states whether you wish to donate vital organs.

Conservatorship and Dying Intestate

In the event that you become mentally or physically incapacitated without having appointed an agent to act as power of attorney or without having an advance directive in place, the courts will often appoint an conservator to handle your financial or legal affairs, according to the California Courts Self Help Center. If you die intestate, or without a valid will, the courts will often appoint an executor to distribute the assets of your estate according to the laws of your state, the American Bar Association states.

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Does a Financial Power of Attorney Mean You're an Executor to the Will?

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Can a Power of Attorney Create a Will?

Planning for your future includes considering the possibility of your incapacitation. A legal document, known as a power of attorney, allows you to designate one or more individuals to take care of a variety of responsibilities if you are unavailable or incapable of performing these on your own. The details you include in your power of attorney document will help define the responsibilities and limitations this written instrument allows.

Power of Attorney During a Coma

Medical emergencies arrive without advance warning, but a prudent person can prepare for the unexpected with an appropriate power of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal document appointing someone, known as the agent, to act in your place in managing your finances or health care. Many types of powers of attorney exist but only those termed durable remain effective if you become incapacitated.

Types of Power of Attorney for Elderly Family Members

The health of an aging family member may determine the type of power of attorney she will agree to or is able to sign. A power of attorney is a document whereby someone known as the principal will appoint an agent or attorney-in-fact to act on her behalf. A principal often grants power of attorney to a trusted family member with a keen business sense so that she knows her affairs are being handled according to her wishes.

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