Jan 26, 2011

Powers of Atty Don't Work After Death

Hello Liza, I have a question regarding a power of attorney the was issued sometime in 1981.  Unfortunately my grandmother did not keep a copy and she has not been with us for about 10years now.  The notary who issued the power of attorney is also gone.  Are there copies and are they kept somewhere locateable.  I need to produce a copy to an attorney overseas who is doing some work for my family.   I have no idea why anyone would need a power of attorney for someone who has died so long ago, unless it is to document a long-ago transaction.. A Power of Attorney is a document that authorizes an Agent to act on behalf of someone (the Principal) who is alive, but incapacitated in some way, or who authorizes the Agent to act of their behalf for another reason. That authority, however, terminates upon the death of the Principal. After there's been a death, it is a Will that authorizes an executor to act on behalf of the now dead person. I find that my clients frequently are confused by this and try to use a Power of Attorney to write checks to pay for things like last illness expenses and funeral expenses. They should NOT do this, as they legally have no authority under that document the minute the Principal has died. And there's no central registry for Powers of Attorney, if you can't find it, nobody can.