A Last Will and Testament (“Will”) is a legal document that sets out the instructions for what you want to be done with your belongings after your death. It is important to understand that a Power of Attorney (POA) does not allow someone to make changes to your Will. It does, however, allow a trusted person the authority to act on your behalf if you become unable or unwilling to do so for yourself.
A Last Will and Testament is an important part of estate planning that allows you to plan ahead for the distribution of your assets in the event of death or incapacity while preserving many aspects of autonomy.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document designating someone else as an agent to make decisions on behalf of the principal should they be unable or unwilling due to illness, mental incapacity, or absence from the country. Compensation may be authorized at the discretion of the principal depending upon state law, but it is not required as part of POAs.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney (PoA) is a legal document where one person (known as the principal) grants another person (known as the attorney-in-fact or agent) the authority to act on their behalf in order to manage their affairs.
This can be either a general power of attorney, which grants broad authority or a limited power of attorney, which grants narrower authority for specific tasks. A PoA can be used for both financial and non-financial matters depending on its scope.
The agent will have decision-making authority regarding the principal’s finances, assets, and property as set forth in the power of attorney document. Depending on its scope, a PoA might allow an agent to:
-Make deposits or withdrawals from bank accounts
-Pay bills and debts owed by the principal
-Receive income on behalf of the principal
-Buy or sell real estate and/or assets
-Sign documents and contracts for goods, services, and/or investments on behalf of the principal
What is a Will?
A will is a legal document that dictates how individuals wish to distribute their assets after death. It outlines who the beneficiaries are, and provides clear instructions on how to divide the deceased individual’s property and belongings.
Wills can also provide instructions for other matters such as pet ownership, burial arrangements, guardianship of minors, setting up trusts, and other estate planning concerns.
Generally, wills must be signed by the testator (person making the will), be witnessed by two people, and subsequently filed with the court system in order for them to become legally valid. Over time this document can become outdated or may no longer reflect an individual’s wishes.
In order to make sure that a will remains up-to-date according to its creator’s wishes, individuals can choose someone else to make changes for them via an appointed power of attorney.
Can a Power of Attorney Change a Will?
A power of attorney is a legal document that grants one person the authority to make financial and other legal decisions on behalf of another. These decisions can be very broad or very specific depending on the document.
One potential use of a power of attorney is to make changes to an existing will. However, this person does not have carte blanche to make whatever changes they want. There are certain limitations and guidelines in place, which we will discuss in this article.
When a Power of Attorney Can Make Changes to a Will
Under certain circumstances, a power of attorney (POA) can be authorized to make changes to an individual’s will or another estate plan. When such authority is established, the POA can make changes that are deemed in the best interest of the individual in question.
This can include making specific requests or altering provisions contained within their will or other papers related to their primary assets and estate planning objectives.
The extent of any such authority must be established by a legally enforceable document, such as a statutory form POA. The language in the document must clearly set out the parameters of any such power and authorize the POA to act on behalf of an incapacitated grantor.
Moreover, depending on applicable state law, action taken by a POA on behalf of a grantor might be subject to scrutiny by courts or regulatory agencies based on whether:
a) it was in line with any instructions provided by the grantor;
b) it succeeded in furthering the grantor’s reasonable expectations;
c) it constituted reasonable and appropriate action considering existing facts and circumstances; and/or
d) it was prejudicial to protected interests or parties who had previously acquired rights or alternative remedies via appropriate means prior to its enactment.
Additionally, if ability-altering conditions exist for which there is no valid statutory POA form specified for them (e.g., mental incapacity), legally recognized remedies may need to be pursued in court prior to allowing a POA any autonomy related either specifically or more generally related to managing necessary financial matters on behalf of their incapacitated grantors.
Precautionary measures should also be considered when granting generous access powers over large financial assets and account with multiple account holders involved as these require complex relationships between all affected parties that must then merge into a specific clearly defined budgetary direction under extreme scrutiny.
When a Power of Attorney Cannot Make Changes to a Will
Under normal circumstances, a Power of Attorney (POA) cannot alter or change a will. All changes to a will must be made within the exact framework provided by state and federal laws. If the POA attempts to do so, it is considered invalid since only the testator can make changes to the document.
However, there are exceptional cases where the POA can make legal changes to a will. These include cases where the person named in the power of attorney has been granted authority to manage the property and financial assets of an incapacitated individual or situations which involve trusts or trust funds.
In these instances, it may be necessary for a POA user to alter certain aspects of a will in order for them to legally carry out his or her fiduciary responsibilities as enumerated in their power of attorney documents.
It is important to keep in mind that any changes made with a power of attorney must strictly adhere to any legal codes outlined by your state. Prior to considering any modifications, it is essential that you consult with estate planning attorneys and review your situation with them carefully before attempting any changes yourself.
This ensures that all changes made are valid and approved under existing law, protecting you from potential litigation if future issues arise related to these modifications.
It is possible for a power of attorney to change a will, but it must be done according to the express wishes of the grantor as stated in the document. The POA should be in writing, signed, and notarized depending on state law.
Additionally, any person granted power of attorney must operate independently with their powers and not act as an advocate for their own interests.
If there is any question as to whether a power of attorney has the legal authority to make changes to a will, it may be best to consult with a qualified estate planning lawyer or another legal expert.
The advice offered may provide greater clarity about what a power of attorney may or may not do regarding changing wills. Ultimately, it is crucial that anyone considering making changes considers all options before taking action.