Actually, the authority your agent under your power of attorney dies with you!

In Georgia, once a person passes away, the authority granted by a financial power of attorney typically comes to an end. So, if you’ve given your child, sister, spouse, friend the power to handle your financial affairs through a power of attorney, that authority won’t extend beyond your passing.  This is usually a surprise to most people we talk to in our consultations.  Sometimes they even tell us that they thought, since they were their mom or dad’s power of attorney, that they would use the power of attorney to pay the final bills and access bank accounts when their mom or dad dies.

After your death, the process of managing your financial matters usually involves probate or other legal procedures (like trust administration).  What this means is that managing your financial matters (a.k.a. talking to cell phone provider, credit card companies, paying bills, accessing bank accounts, etc.) will now need to be handled through a DIFFERENT legal process.  The financial agent CANNOT USE your power of attorney after you die.  It would be outside the bounds of their authority and maybe get them in some trouble.

After death, an executor or administrator, named in your will (or if no will, then the court gets to decide!), takes charge of handling your estate. They are responsible for settling any outstanding debts and distributing your assets according to your wishes.  Unless you have a trust!  Then, when you die there are mechanisms (I like to think of them as triggers) that kick in and your Trustee will take over handling all of your financial affairs.  They will settle your debts, if your trust calls for it, they will manage your accounts and real estate, and they will ultimately follow your choices on what want to have happen to your property.

If you have a durable power of attorney for finances and thought you didn’t need anything else, give us a call and we can suggest other tools in the estate planning shed to add to your collection!  Because the financial power of attorney only goes so far.  Protect your estate administration!

It’s important to understand that estate laws can vary, and the details of your situation matter. To get the most accurate and up-to-date information based on Georgia’s laws, it’s advisable to consult with an attorney specializing in estate planning and probate matters.  Like us.  We are those kinds of attorneys!

power of attorney

Georgia Durable Financial Power of Attorney