What Happens to a Power of Attorney After Death?

In Florida, a power of attorney ends after the death of the principal. A power of attorney is a legal document provided by Chapter 709 of Florida law that allows one person (called a “principal”) to appoint another person (called an “agent”) to legally act on their behalf. So long as the specific power is listed in the document, the agent can take any legal action that the principal could take.

There is no legal way to extend the use of the power of attorney after the grantor dies. Financial institutions will not recognize nor accept the right of the agent to act on behalf of a principal after the principal has died.

When Does a Power of Attorney End?

Section 709.2109 of the Florida Statutes states that a power of attorney terminates when:

  • the principal dies;
  • the principal becomes incapacitated if the power of attorney is not durable;
  • the principal revokes the power of attorney;
  • the power of attorney document provides that it terminates (for example, on a certain date);
  • the purpose of the power of attorney is accomplished (for example, to conduct a certain transaction);
  • the agent’s authority terminates and the document does not provide for another agent to act.

Because the statute expressly provides that the power of attorney ends when the principal dies, there is no way to draft the power of attorney so that it can be used after the principal’s death.

Florida power of attorney ends after death

Who Controls the Principal’s Assets After Death?

Once the principal dies, their personal representative (executor) takes legal authority over all assets still in the deceased person’s name. These assets do not include any property that was transferred automatically upon a person’s death. For example, often people will name a beneficiary to their retirement accounts, bank accounts, or even property with a lady bird deed. Such assets are not part of the person’s estate and are not controlled by the personal representative.

About the Author

Gideon Alper specializes in estate planning for individuals and their families.

Gideon Alper

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