Is a POA only effective when the grantor is still alive?

My father had no living Will. He had small amt of property and money in 2 bank accounts. My stepsister got him to sign a POA to her. However, after his death she continued spending from his accounts yet I believe that a POA is only effective while the person who gives it is still alive. Also, can criminal charges be filed? He does have a small amount of real estate. How do I get the property; I’m his biological daughter.

Asked on June 21, 2016 under Estate Planning, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) That is correct: a power of attorney is only effective while the grantor (the person granting it) is alive; the POA "dies" with the person, so to speak, and only a will can control what happens after that.
2) If your stepsister has taken money from your father's estate when she was not entitled to, which appears to be the case, you should be able to file charges; the personal representative of the estate (a court appointed  administrator, if there is no will appointing an executor) can also sue her on behalf of the estate to recover the money she took.
3) You need to file a legal action in surrogates or probate court to have a representative appointed for the estate; that person can then take action to protect the estate, recover any amounts wrongfully taken, pay the final debts or expenses, and distribute the assets to those who should inherit (e.g. you). A trusts and estates or probate lawyer can help you with this.

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