In the UK recently a person has been fined the equivalent of many thousands of dollars for using an expired power of attorney to withdraw money from the principal’s bank account after her death, even though he acted with the consent of her sole beneficiary (her son).
The agent was a close friend of the deceased, and of her only son. Although aware of her death, over the subsequent weeks he made three withdrawals from her personal bank accounts.
Some of this money went towards funding a property transaction which had been specifically authorised by the deceased before her death.
Other funds were either used for legitimate and authorised estate expenses, or were not used at all and later returned to the estate account.
Although the estate, and its sole beneficiary, have not lost from the transactions, the agent was fined because the cash transfers were done using an invalid power of attorney that had automatically lapsed on the deceased’s death.
Be warned: when a person dies, their accounts are (or ought to be) frozen at date-of-death, and withdrawals should not take place unless fully authorised as a legitimate part of the administration of the deceased estate. ALL powers-of-attorney previously created by the deceased die with them, and have no further legal force or validity after their death. Anyone attempting to use an expired power-of-attorney is likely to find themselves in serious trouble, as they will be committing a criminal offence.
Don’t be tempted to take short-cuts. Seek professional advice from an experience Wills & Probate lawyer to sort through the legal complexities of administering a deceased estate.
Contact us today on (08) 8212 7233 to arrange a FREE telephone consultation.
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