When you grant Durable Power of Attorney to another person – your “Attorney in Fact” – you are giving that person the power to act on your behalf in all financial matters. This power endures even if you become incapacitated, disabled or incompetent. However, many people do not realize that once you die, your Durable Power of Attorney is no longer valid; in other words, it dies when you die.
Often, the “Attorney in Fact” will attempt to access accounts post-death only to be told that he or she does not have the legal right to do so. Just recently a gentleman came into our office to discuss this very issue. He was a joint owner of his mother’s only bank account, but she was the sole owner of a mutual funds account worth approximately $125,000. On a certain Friday in September, this gentleman thought that he should – as his mother’s “Attorney in Fact” – transfer the mutual funds into the joint account so that he could pay her nursing home bills. But because he had other things that needed to be taken care of that day, he put off the transfer intending to do it at the beginning of the following week.
Unfortunately, his mother died that weekend and the son was no longer able to access her mutual funds account. As a result, it became necessary to open a probate estate so that he could be named Executor and then have the necessary power to close the account. While opening a probate estate is not difficult or complicated, it does mean fees and time that might not have needed to be expended.
So a reminder: whether you are granting someone Durable Power of Car Accident Attorney Kansas City or whether you are someone’s “Attorney in Fact,” be mindful of the limitation of this power and act accordingly in managing assets and accounts.