You are correct. If the account was solely owned by one individual, who had a POA while they were alive, the POA ends at death and the account would be a probate asset (an asset owned by a single individual at death). The probate estate is legally handled by the executor/administrator as the powers of the agent under the POA absolutely end at the death of the principal.
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I agree with Attorney Zelinger. Unless the agent acted fraudulently, which COULD be the case, it is possible that the account was either joint with the agent or designated the agent as beneficiary. If this was set up in this manner BY the agent under the POA, then you should be able to challenge it in probate. If it was set up by the decedent, then it will likely be VERY difficult to challenge.
There are MANY times when assets pass to joint owners or beneficiaries at the time of death, by operation of law. This would only be unusual, if the account was titled in the decedent's name alone.
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Attorneys Zelinger and Frederick are correct. If the account was solely-owned by the decedent, then it passes into the decedent's probate estate at his death. If the account was held as joint tenants with right of survivorship, then it goes to the surviving joint tenant.
In both instances, it does not matter whether the underlying account was subject to a POA. The underlying titling controls. This is due to the fact that when a person appoints an attorney-in-fact in a POA, the attorney-in-fact manages not only solely-owned assets, but jointly held assets.
It is, unfortunately, possible that the person holding the POA abused his or her power and changed the titling of the decedent's accounts. I would urge you to retain a solid probate lawyer to make sure that this isn't the case. Good luck to you.
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