When you grant someone power of attorney, they can act on your behalf, but this doesn’t include changing your will.
Power of attorney comes with limits.
Power of Attorney Doesn’t Let Someone Change Your Will
State laws outline the requirements for a valid will, including:
- The testator being of sound mind and at least 18 years old
- Understanding their assets and potential heirs
- Following specific procedures for creating and signing the will.
Once a will is properly executed, it remains in effect unless revoked by writing a new will, drafting a revocation statement following legal rules, or physically destroying the will.
Power of attorney does not grant the authority to change a will.
Upon your death, the power of attorney ceases, and the distribution of your assets is determined by your will and governed by state law.
What Power of Attorney Allows Someone To Do
- Handling finances
- Managing real estate
- Creating trusts
- Hiring professionals
- Dealing with creditors
- Making business decisions
- Caring for pets
- Managing digital assets.
For instance, you can appoint a power of attorney to manage bills while you’re abroad or sell property, or grant your adult child power of attorney to sell your car if you no longer drive.
Limits on What Power of Attorney Allows
Power of attorney grants agents decision-making authority within specified powers.
For instance, if your agent wants to sell your car, they must show the document at the DMV to prove they have this power.
You can set limits and restrictions on the agent’s authority, and if a task isn’t mentioned in the power of attorney, the agent can’t decide on it.
You can also limit the agent’s authority by date range, useful for travel or temporary incapacitation, or create a power of attorney for a specific action, like signing real estate closing documents in your absence.
How To Deal With Potential Issues of Abuse
Agents granted power of attorney must act in your best interests or in a manner consistent with your wishes, known as fiduciary duty.
To revoke power of attorney, provide written notice to your agent and relevant institutions holding the document.