Executor of Will vs. Power of Attorney

When you make an estate plan, you need to designate an executor for your will. You also need to decide who has power of attorney should you become incapacitated. Many people think these two things are interchangeable, but they actually cover very different territory. While the executor and power of attorney can be the same person, they do not have to be. You may prefer a family member has power of attorney vs. giving executor oversight to a family friend.

Here’s a look at the differences between these two important designations. We also answer some frequently asked questions such as does an executor have power of attorney.

What Is Power of Attorney?

Power of attorney allows you to make decisions on behalf of others. The person with power of attorney can give immediate permission for things such as medical procedures if you become incapacitated. Power of attorney covers your decisions when you are alive. It might be invoked if you are in a coma or suffering from a condition so debilitating you can no longer convey your wishes.

Things someone might need to do when power of attorney is invoked include:

  • Filing a lawsuit for you
  • Cashing checks or investing money on your behalf
  • Permitting medical decisions for your minor children

When you plan your estate, you can decide how extensive you want your power of attorney to be. Some people opt not to include medical decisions. You should discuss the options with your lawyer to make an informed decision. You can also invoke power of attorney for a short term to accomplish something you need taken care of when you are out of the country, such as signing closing documents on a property sale. Keep in mind that a power of attorney terminates at the death of the grantor.

You grant power of attorney to someone when you sign the proper documents. This is different from an executor, whose role does not begin until a judge signs an order giving them the power to carry out tasks related to the estate.

What Is the Executor of Will?

The executor of a will oversees the assets and estate after someone passes away. If you do not appoint an executor of your will, a court will designate one to make decisions after your death. Responsibilities of the executor may include:

  • Organizing your assets and giving them to designated beneficiaries
  • Paying off creditors and taking care of funeral bills
  • Reviewing all your financial statements and your will

The will must enter probate before your executor can carry out their duties. An executor of an estate or will does not have power of attorney unless you fill out a separate document also granting them that duty.

Revocation of Power of Attorney

It is relatively simple to revoke power of attorney. You must fill out a form entitled “Revocation of Power of Attorney.” You will need to file the form in the county where you live or engage in most of your business. We advise you to also destroy the previous power of attorney document.

Removal of Executor of Will

Though you can remove power of attorney yourself, the court must remove the executor of a will. Beneficiaries must prove the executor is not working in their best interests. They need to show the assets of the estate are being wasted or other convincing evidence of neglect or malice in the executor’s actions, proving they are not up for the job.

Get Assistance With Your Power of Attorney and Executor of Estate Documents

Now that you understand the difference between executor of estate vs. power of attorney, are you ready to designate those people on your behalf? MPL Law can assist you with drawing up the proper documents to ensure your wishes are carried out the way you want them, whether you need someone to watch out for your minor children if you are incapacitated or you have certain things you want done with your estate. Contact MPL Law today for assistance with designating an executor of your will or power of attorney, or to receive advice on these matters.

The estate one should state a power of attorney terminates at death of the grantor.

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