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Executor of estate vs. power of attorney

Are you trying to determine the difference between the executor of estate vs. power of attorney?

Are you wondering how a power of attorney works compared to an executor of an estate? An executor of an estate is a person who has the authority to act on behalf of a person who has died while a person who holds a power of attorney has the authority to act on behalf of another person who is alive. The power of attorney becomes invalid once a person dies.

Here is a chart explaining the differences between an executor of an estate vs. a power of attorney.

Executor of Estate Power of Attorney
When power to act is in effect: Principal has died Principal is alive
Power to act is created by this document: Last Will and Testament Power of attorney form
How is the document validated: Two witnesses Notary Public notarizes

An executor of an estate is the person nominated in a decedent’s last will and testament. The powers of the executor take effect only after the principal has died. An executor of an estate has no power while the principal is still alive. When, and only when, the person dies, does the executor have any authority to act on behalf of the estate.

A person who holds a power of attorney for another person gets the power to act for the other person when the terms of the power of attorney say that the power is granted. Some powers of attorney state that the power is to take effect immediately. Another type of Power of Attorney only gives the other person the ability to act when some event takes place. These type of “delayed” power of attorneys are referred to as “Springing Powers of Attorney”. They are referred to as Springing Powers of Attorney because the power “springs to life” upon the occurrence of a triggering event. A very common triggering event that causes the power of attorney to spring to life is the “incapacity of the principal”. For instance, a person could make a Springing Power of Attorney that provides that the power of attorney shall spring to life if the principal is unable to make decisions for themselves.  If the person were to get into a car crash and be in a coma, the springing power of attorney would come to life and allow the person holding the power of attorney to act on behalf of the comatose person. The common powers granted would be to allow the other person to pay the bills of the incapacitated person. As soon as the incapacitated person regains consciousness, the springing power of attorney would stop and the power of attorney would no longer be in effect.

A properly drafted estate plan contains both an executor in the Last Will and Testament as well as Powers of Attorney to protect the person for events while they are alive. Call us at 800-501-9620 to put your estate plan in place today.

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