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Estate Planning | Probate

How Does Power of Attorney Connect With Probate?

2 min read
Philip Ahn, Attorney

by Philip Ahn, Attorney

Agents handle power of attorney, and executors handle probate. The same person can go from one role to the other if planned in advance.

The concept of “power of attorney” frequently appears in probate and the estate planning process. 

A power of attorney is a document that grants someone the authority to make financial or healthcare decisions on your behalf during your lifetime. Probate is the legal process after a person’s death to distribute their assets and settle their estate, managed by an executor who is often chosen in advance by the deceased. The same person can typically balance both roles, and a lawyer can assist.

Transitioning from Power Of Attorney to Executor Duties

Power of attorney is granted when someone, often a trusted relative or lawyer, is appointed as an agent or “attorney-in-fact” for someone else. The agent does not have to be a legal professional, but they do have to conduct themselves lawfully. The agent takes on specific tasks and powers related to financial management and decision-making, effectively becoming the person’s representative. An agent can alternatively be granted powers like a springing power of attorney that takes place under certain conditions – like when someone is incapacitated and unable to make their own health decisions is also essential.

When a person dies, the same agent who serves as the attorney for financial matters may assume the role of the executor if previously specified in a will. Executors are responsible for handling the proper distribution of assets, settling debts, and ensuring that the estate plan is carried out. This approach saves time and money, reducing the length of the probate process. 

Whether the person with power of attorney can serve as the executor depends on what is written in a will. In the cases where there is no will, the probate court will assign the executor.

Overruling Decisions From Someone You’ve Granted Power of Attorney To

If you appoint an attorney-in-fact to manage your financial and legal matters, you may wonder if you can alter their decisions. It’s important to understand that you retain control over their affairs and can generally change arrangements previously set in place.

Where Attorneys Come Into Play for Guidance or Estate Administration

Executors play a pivotal role in executing the wishes outlined in the estate plan, and it’s the responsibility of legal counsel to guide the executor throughout this complex process.

Legal professionals can ensure that the executor understands their duties and responsibilities, helping to prevent potential disputes or complications.

Engaging an attorney on an unbundled basis is a cost-effective way to get support. Unbundled attorneys take on specific tasks for as low as $500 to $1,500, in contrast to the higher expenses associated with full representation from an attorney, which typically starts between $3,000 and $5,000.

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