The Difference Between Power of Attorney and Executor

Learn more about what sets apart an executor from someone with power of attorney: what they do, when they do it, and how they do it.

The Difference Between Power of Attorney and Executor

An executor is the person you name in your will to handle your affairs after your death. A power of attorney appoints a person, often called a de facto agent or proxy, to handle matters for you while you are alive. In general terms, your power of attorney ceases to be effective at the time of your death. The difference is literally life or death. The agent acting under his power of attorney only has power and authority to act during his lifetime.

Rather, the executor is a person who is appointed by the probate court to close your estate when you die. The executor only has the power to act after his death. A person can act as agent and executor of your will. This is not uncommon, especially if you have chosen a child or other trusted relative for roles. The power of attorney is only effective while you are alive, and executors only assume their responsibilities once you die.

It is easy to get confused about the difference between the power of attorney and the executor of the estate. Both take care of someone else's financial affairs. The biggest difference between the two is that someone with power of attorney handles things while the person is alive, while the executor of the estate takes care of things after the person's death. The power to incur debts on behalf of the company, including debt secured by liens against the assets of the company or the estate, if the order so permits or so indicates;. If you find that you have a hard time thinking about the people to name, you may want to consider looking for an estate planning lawyer.

In many cases, a spouse or adult child is granted a power of attorney and appointed executor of the estate. Usually, an initial power of attorney begins when a certain condition is met, such as when a doctor determines that the person cannot make their own decisions. Two of the most prominent functions are the executor of your estate and your agent with power of attorney. Learn more about the difference between a power of attorney and a living will, another type of advance directive. For example, you can create a financial power of attorney to allow the agent to make financial decisions when you are on a business trip or even give you the legal authority to purchase real estate. Your power of attorney and executor will play a key role in taking care of your affairs at the end of your life and beyond.

An executor will administer your will when you die making sure your wishes are met; an attorney protects your interests while you are alive. Among the many people who could be involved in your estate plan, it's important to think about who should act as executor (trustee) of your will (or trust) and who should be granted a durable power of attorney (if any). The executor resolves financial matters and oversees the probate process after your death, while someone who has a power of attorney can make financial and medical decisions on your behalf during your lifetime, which may extend until you are incapacitated. Someone with a power of attorney gets to work while you're alive, but can't make decisions for themselves. The fact that someone has been granted a power of attorney does not mean that he or she will necessarily be appointed executor, and being named executor in a will does not grant any legal rights while the person is alive.

Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives one person (usually known as the agent) control over certain decisions about and for another person. Unlike lawyers, an executor may not know that he or she has been named because a will is a private document and only comes into effect after the death of the person who made it. Executors are trustees of your estate, and a person with power of attorney also has a legal obligation to act in your best interest when it comes to specific matters that you have designated.