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What legal issues might I run afoul of with a durable power of attorney?

York, PA |

My father just died this week. His wife was in the hospital at the time of his passing, and I was named to a durable power of attorney both for my father and my stepmother. Her niece is also granted the same power of attorney on the same documents and I have no idea what issues I could run into with running her affairs and paying her bills at the same time I am trying to change anything I have to from my father's name to hers. (my stepmother) Is there a possibility of conflict arising from two distinct people both having power of attorney on the same estate?

I guess I wasn't clear enough I am co-executor on my father's will, as well as my stepmothers will, but, the lawyer who drew up the wills and the POA's as well told me there is no reason to open the will and go through probate unless a conflict between my father's bequests and the properties and other moneys passing to his wife as survivor. As an example, a CD in my fathers name, be-quested to me, the only child, will pass to my stepmother if the will is not opened. When that happens, I would have control over that money for his wife's benefit using my POA for her, but that money should pass to me as my father be-quested it, instead, I would administer it for her, but she would possess my money, wouldn't she?

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Attorney answers 3


If you are talking about having a POA over your fathers assets, Mr. Frederick is correct. I think you are talking about having a POA over stepmother (with her neice), correct?

James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick


I was not sure because asker talked about having POA over an "estate."

Griffin Jay Osmond

Griffin Jay Osmond


Good point. You may very well be understanding the question correctly.


You do not use a POA for an estate. A POA terminates upon death. So there is ZERO liability associated with acting under your father's POA, and you no longer have any legal right to do so. You need to be appointed executor or administrator for your father's estate; (we call them personal representatives, in Michigan). That person would have legal authority to do whatever needs to be done with regard to the estate.

James Frederick

***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!


First, please accept my sympathies on your father's passing.

I'm not sure why your attorney advised you not to probate the will. Sometimes there are not enough assets to warrant probate. Sometimes, all of the assets are set up to pass outside the will. Being told that you don't need to probate the assets because you will be able to manage the assets if they pass to your stepmother is odd. With the stress of your father's passing, I wonder if there wasn't a miscommunication. Let some time pass and go back to the attorney for clarification. If you get the same answer, you may want to consult with another probate attorney in your area. In fairness, I am a Georgia attorney with almost no knowledge about Pennsylvania law. I would feel more comfortable, however, getting the same opinion from two different attorneys in this circumstance.

Good luck!

Unless you came into my office, signed a contract and wrote me a check, I am not your attorney, and you are not my client. This is not intended as legal advice and should only be used for informational purposes only. You should never believe any information that you receive on the internet, especially information that is probably being provided in the late evening hours when I should be sleeping.

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