A power of attorney is a legally binding document giving a person some authority to act on behalf of another. There are very strict limitations as to what this person can and cannot do. If you believe someone has changed a will or has made changes he or she is not authorized to do on behalf of another person, it is important to bring this matter to attention. There are very specific rules a power of attorney must follow when given this right.
At McLarty Wolf Litigation Lawyers, we work closely with our clients to help in all manners of estate litigation cases. We are happy to help answer your questions about power of attorney changes and legalities.
Understanding the Power of Attorney Rights
A power of attorney is given authority on behalf of the grantor to act on his or her behalf. There are several levels of service these individuals can be provided. Some will grant limited authority. This may include the right for an individual to pay bills for the grantor, for example. Others provide more authority, such as making a decision with regards to the grantor’s assets. However, the power of attorney does not provide the ability to the individual to change a will. A will, created by the grantor in good standing, will always remain in place unless that grantor makes a change to it.
Here is an example. Amy grants her daughter Susan power of attorney to pay bills and handle financial documents. Amy’s will provides for her son, James, to inherit real estate. Before Amy dies, Susan wishes to have the will changed to remove James. Unless Amy does this herself, it will not be legally binding. The court will require that Amy be of sound mind to make such changes.
After Amy dies, Susan may still maintain some level of power of attorney if she is awarded enduring power of attorney specifically. If so, Susan still has no ability to change the will on behalf of Amy. It is not Susan’s ability or right to make changes to the will, to hide the will, or otherwise to doctor the will for any reason.
Who Can Change a Will?
The person creating the will, called the testator, is the only party capable of changing a will. He or she must follow specific formalities to create the will. For example, the person creating – as well as changing it later on – must have the mental capacity to recognize family members. He or she must be able to understand the property in question. Additionally, there must be witnesses attesting to the mental competency of the individual.
It is possible for a testator to change a will. If a new will is created after the date of creation of an existing will, the new will becomes legally binding. The other will is no longer in play. Again, the only person who can make such changes is the testator.
What Happens When Concerns Exist about Finances
It is possible the power of attorney will need to make some decisions after a person’s death. For example, if the individual has an enduring power of attorney – which means he or she has the ability to maintain power of attorney legally after death, he or she is also required to maintain the same designations. For example, if an investment matures after the death of the owner, it is possible for the power of attorney to reinvest those funds. This would be done on behalf of the grantor. At the same time, the power of attorney must continue the designation that has been in place previously. He or she cannot change the designation to another party. Additionally, if the power of attorney simply does not continue this destination, this is considered an alteration of the designation. It is not possible for the power of attorney to do this.
If you believe someone acted outside of these laws, it is important to discuss this information with an attorney. Many factors play a role here including the documentation within the will and the overall changes being made. It is critical to discuss your case fully with a seasoned estate litigation lawyer to understand what your legal options are for making changes to these decisions.
Schedule a Consultation with Our Estate Litigation Attorneys
The details of your case matter. In order to provide you with more thorough information and details about your legal rights, we encourage you to contact our law firm immediately. At McLarty Wolf Litigation Lawyers, we provide you with aggressive legal defense and support for all matters. We encourage you to contact us at 1-877-230-5383 to schedule a consultation, or you can use our online contact form, and our team will give you a call.