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Can a marriage license supersede a power of attorney?

Livermore, CA |

My father is aging and the children thought it may be good to prepare a POA. We are children of his first marriage and his only children. My father is on his third wife. She has limited English comprehension and we thought it may be a wise idea to help when the end comes.

I should add that my father is in the early stages of Altzimers disease.

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Attorney answers 5


The POA is void when the end comes.
The father-if competent-can make his own decisions even after signing POA.
The spouse has certain spousal rights which could conflict with the POA if the husband becomes

The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.


A person is generally free to name anyone he or she wants to act under a POA. In cases where there is a later marriage and children from a prior marriage, it is quite common to name one of the adult children. I agree with Attorney Pippen, however, that the spouse may have rights that would conflict with the POA agent. One example of this would be a joint bank account. Both the spouse and the POA agent could theoretically access this account, which could create a huge mess for everyone. In this case, it might be best to have an agreement/understanding ahead of time as to how this is going to work. Obviously, everyone working together to help take care of your father would be in everyone's best interest.

James Frederick

*** 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.


Second marriages always create problems. He should have entered into a prenuptial agreement if he wanted to protect his children. The POA lapses at his death so that is of little help. He needs to see an estates attorney to plan out his estate assuming he is still legally competent to do so.

For more on talking with aging parents about this topic please read Estate Planning For Elderly Parents: Discussing Finances and Estate Planning with Your Aging Parents at the following link: Please hit the like button at the end of the article if you found it helpful. Also see the hypertext article listed below.

Hope this helps.

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Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336, his email address is , for more tax, estate and business articles visit his website and blog

LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is , his website is and his blog is <> Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received. By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick


Since I have been blessed with a wonderful second marriage, I like to think of it as "second marriages create new estate planning opportunities." ;-)


The fact that your father remarries can certainly impact and affect your abilities to utilize the power of attorney you would receive from him. A lot of important issues would be such as how he held title in relation to his wife, does it take both their signatures or only his signature to control the account or remove funds. Whatever you do, do not look at the power of attorney as being a blanket insurance policy so your father cannot somehow or other share with or distribute funds or assets to any wife.

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Age does not automatically make your Dad 'Incompetent'. Under a Power of Attorney, a person can basically name a spouse or anyone else to act under a POA. Don't just 'Assume' your Dad does not want his wife involved. He chose to marry her - and her limited use of English doesn't necessarily mean she would act in a way contrary to his wishes. Joint Bank accounts, Joint Investment holdings, real estate titles etc. are issues you should discuss with him - but give his wife the respect she deserves. He and she may have entered into an oral agreement about what is to be done when, and certainly his Will (or better yet) his Trust could be a key factor. I suggest you attend a meeting with your Dad, your Step-Mother and your Siblings in the office of a local Estate Planning attorney to sort this out.

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