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

Answers:

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.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.