When does power of attorney end without a will?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 23, 2016
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When does power of attorney end without a will?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

The power of a power of attorney ends when the person for whom it was made dies"”and that is true whether or not that person also made a will.

Although many people are confused or misguided about it, after the person dies, a power of attorney is of no help to the survivors in managing affairs, getting access to money and accounts, or transferring property."¨"¨

A person who dies without a will is said to die "intestate ”which means that property owned will be divided according to the laws of "intestate succession" that are in force in the state in which he or she lived. Most laws specify the property should be divided or go outright to survivors according to a hierarchy of how closely related they are to the deceased. If you are curious about specifics in a particular state, do a search of "intestate succession" and "laws" and the name of the state.

There are a few exceptions to the intestate laws' formula for dividing and distributing property. For example, survivors named as joint tenants on property, as is sometimes the case on the title to a house or on a bank account, will automatically get the property at death"”as will beneficiaries named on a life insurance policy.