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I am puzzled about power of attorney and living wills

One puzzle here: I have power of attorney for both of my rather aged parents, but these cease to be valid upon their respective deaths. You article suggests that they are helpful after the parent(s)' death(s). My attorney told me that this is not the case. They are valid only as long as the respective parent is alive. Also, a "Living Will" is something else again, from my understanding. It is a document that the parents fill out regarding their wishes of what they want loved ones to do when they become so ill that only extreme measures will keep them alive.

Please clarify for me there.

Status: Open    Mar 28, 2016 - 08:26 AM

Elder Law

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Expert Answers

Mar 31, 2016 - 11:26 AM

All POAs terminate on the death of the Principal, so your information is accurate. The Executor of their Will would soon take up decision-making, sort of a handoff from the Agent to the Executor, but it isn't seamless or always quick. There can often be a time gap of weeks before the Executor is empowered to act, so you might consider a revocable living trust as a solution to avoiding this gap.

A Living Will is a document that states to what extent a person wants artificial life support, food through a tube etc, once two MDs have diagnosed their condition as one that actually triggers the provisions of the Living Will, usually terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness. It saves the family from having to guess and it allows the patient the option to die naturally rather than hooked up to machines. It is a gift one makes to his or her family.

Hope this helps.

William G. Nolan
Birmingham, AL

Apr 01, 2016 - 10:13 AM

Powers of Attorney and Living Wills do cease at the death of the Grantor of those powers. There is no use for them after death.

After death a Will takes over and an Executor becomes the "agent" for the deceased individual. It is therefore important to not only have a Durable Power of Attorney and a Living Will, but also a Last Will and Testament.
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