Does having power of attorney mean that person may change beneficiary without their knowledge?

Mother gave me life insurance policy stating
myself as beneficiary. After she passed, I
called to inquire, only to find out my brother
had been sent the paperwork. Employee
stated she could not give me information as to
why I was no longer the named beneficiary.
Brother stated he had been paying insurance
for many years. But my mother showed me it
was being deducted from her bank account.

Asked on May 21, 2017 under Insurance Law, Mississippi


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Legally, the power of attorney or POA can let the person given power by the POA (called the "agent" or "attorney-in-fact") make changes to insurance documents, including beneficiaries. He had to act in your mother's best interest and in accordance with her wishes, however: the agent is given power to help the principal (the person granting the power; your mother), not to act for his own benefit instead of hers.  IF you can show that she was never informed of the change in beneficiaries and that the POA holder made the change for his own benefit, you *may* be able to undo or reverse the change in beneficiary. You would have to file a lawsuit for this, against the agent or attorney-in-fact for breach of "fiduciary duty" (his duty to act in his principal's interest, not his own). If the principal (your mother) is deceased, it may be difficult to win this lawsuit, since there will be no testimony from her as to what she did or did not know or want.

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