My grandfather was unable to sign properly and could hardly talk, his wife took her attorney to the hospital and had him sign w/only her and the attorney who signed in place of the witness, notary, and attorney..... the paperwork was not your standard p.o.a it had several clauses added giving her authority after his death and to disolve his will if she saw fit... the estate was over a million and she then left town with all the money - giving none to his family as it directed in his will.....
I am very sorry to hear about this. Powers of attorney have specific formal requirements that must be met in order to be valid. Additionally, under Washington's revised Uniform Power of Attorney Act, the specific powers given to the agent may be broader or narrower than appears at first blush. The Act provides agents have specific default powers if the document mentions certain subject matter; conversely, the Act requires certain powers be made explicit in the document in order to be effective.
Because the answer depends on the specific circumstances, I couldn't tell you whether the power of attorney was valid, or whether this person exceeded their authority under the power of attorney, without seeing a copy of the document. I would suggest you consult an attorney promptly.
Please be mindful that any legal rights you may have can be lost if you wait too long to act, so I would urge you to consult an attorney immediately.
I agree with the answer provided by the previous attorney that, in order to fully answer your question, there are several details that have to be explored specific to the facts of your case.
As the other attorney mentioned, Washington has a revised and fairly new (a little over a year old) Power of Attorney Act that changed some of the laws governing Powers of Attorney. One of the first things an attorney would do in analyzing your situation is to determine whether the Power of Attorney was signed when the old Act was in place, or when the new Act took effect (because many of the laws were modified with the new act)
In fact, that new Act has a statute that explains that the validity of a Power of Attorney signed before the new Act (pre Jan 2017) will be governed by the previous laws, and documents signed after the new Act (Jan 2017 or afterwards) will be governed by the New Act's provisions. (See RCW 11.125.060)
The signature formality issue is a good example of a difference between the two laws. The old Act was, surprisingly, silent on the issue of whether a witness, or notary were required on a Power of Attorney. The new Act, however, makes it clear that a valid power of attorney requires either a notary or two witnesses (witnesses must be unrelated to the person signing). (RCW 11.125.030)
Regardless of whether the old Power of Attorney laws or new Attorney laws apply in your case, the rule has been for a long time that, in order for someone to make a Power of Attorney, he/she must have the mental capacity to do so. In your case, it seems like capacity could be an issue. Capacity is an issue that can be explored by an experienced attorney who can gather the facts of your case, as it is too fact-specific to perform an analysis on basic facts.
Lastly, you mentioned that the Power of Attorney held provisions for certain actions taken after your father's death. Washington law is clear that a Power of Attorney agent's authority terminates at death. RCW 11.125.100 says simply enough "a power of attorney terminates when...the principal dies..." This means that the agent can have no authority after the individual's death (unless the agent is also serving, for example, as an individual's personal representative pursuant to a Last Will and Testament, but that is a separate and distinct role).
To make things slightly confusing, you will often see language in Powers of Attorney that do reference events after death, such as consent to organ donation. The bottom-line is, however, that the agent's authority terminates at death, even though the POA might have language that references post-death disposition of organs or other post-death language.
I hope this helps and, as the other attorney suggested, I also recommend consultation with an attorney in order to explore any potential remedies that might be available to you.
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