Does a financial Power of Attorney give me the authority to sell my father’s home after he passes away? – Estate Planning Lawyer – Portland, Oregon

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A financial power of attorney can authorize any number of things.  It can be general or specific to one task, such as selling a home.  However, a power of attorney, as a matter of law, ends with the death of the signer (principal).  Therefore, when your father passes away, the document becomes null and void.

This is because the law behind the power of attorney is the law of agency.  That is, the principal, your father, delegates authority to you during his life. At death, that authorization ends and the law of inheritance controls.

The law of inheritance begins by a review of who owned the home at your father’s passing.  If it was his alone, there may be a probate. If the house is worth less than $200,000 in Oregon in 2013, the probate may be the abbreviated version of probate called Affidavit of Claiming Successor. If your father’s financial affairs are completely in order, and his situation is simple, even the small probate can be avoided through a contract and affidavit with a title company.

Of course, if your father had placed the house in a trust or executed a transfer on death deed, probate would have been circumvented.

A power of attorney is a very important document. It can keep your father out of the court system if he loses the ability to manage his financial affairs while alive. However, it is not a substitute for planning for death, whether by will, trust or other means.

An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you assess which documents best fit your family’s planning needs. Contact the estate planning lawyers with the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg in Portland, Oregon at (503) 245-0894 to set an appointment.