does a power of attorny allow you to sale all property before death?

My mother is deceased, my uncle has a power of attorney for my Grandmother. He has given away her car, put her house on market and is currently having an auction for all her belongings. Is this legal, what if my mother is listed in will, or if she does not have will?

Asked on April 23, 2016 under Estate Planning, Oklahoma


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, if the POA gives the attorney in fact (the person given the power) the authority to sell assets, he may do so before the person's death (the POA ends with her death). But he may only do so for HER benefit: he has a fiduciary duty imposed by law to act in her interest. If he has taken any assets or the money from selling them for himself, he could be sued by her estate (i.e. by her personal representative; the executor or court-appointed administrator) to recover the money, which should be part of the estate to be distributed to her heirs under the will.
And, as stated, once your mother passed, he has no authority under the POA, and if he is still taking or selling her belongings, he is actually committing theft. 
You should consult with an attorney who handes wills or probate work about this situation; you may need to take legal action.

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