One of the great concerns for a deceased person’s family is how to withdraw the funds to pay funeral costs and administration expenses. Is it possible to use a power of attorney to withdraw money from a deceased’s bank account in Florida? Read on to find out.
Florida Power of Attorney – Understanding the Basics
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document used to grant authority to another person to make decisions on your behalf. The person executing the document is referred to as the “principal,” while the person receiving the authority is called the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.”
The level of authority granted to the agent depends on the type of POA and the language used in the document. The principal can give broad or limited power to the agent, restricting the decision-making to specific matters.
Versatile by nature, a POA can be a valuable estate planning tool. For example, you can execute a durable POA naming an agent to handle your financial affairs in the event of incapacitation or severe illness. As specified by Florida Statutes §709.2109 (1), “a power of attorney terminates when:
- The principal dies
- The principal becomes incapacitated (if the power of attorney is not durable)
- The principal is adjudicated totally or partially incapacitated by a court, unless the court determines that certain authority granted by the power of attorney is to be exercisable by the agent
- The principal revokes the power of attorney
- The power of attorney provides that it terminates
- The purpose of the power of attorney is accomplished, or
- The agent’s authority terminates, and the power of attorney does not provide for another agent to act under the power of attorney”
Can Power of Attorney Withdraw Money After Death in Florida? – The Verdict
When the principal dies, a POA is no longer effective and cannot be used to withdraw money from the decedent’s account. Consequently, the agent or attorney-in-fact is no longer responsible for handling the affairs of the deceased principal.
To determine how to withdraw the money, the first step is to identify whether the account has designated beneficiaries. Beneficiary designations permit you to transfer an asset upon death without court intervention.
Examples of accounts with designated beneficiaries include retirement accounts (e.g., IRA, 401(k), etc.), brokerage accounts not listing the decedent as sole beneficiary, and bank accounts with transfer-on-death (TOD) or payable-on-death (POD) beneficiaries.
Please note that beneficiary designation does not avoid probate if the decedent listed his or her estate as a beneficiary. In such cases, the account becomes part of the estate subject to court administration.
Without designated beneficiaries, it is time to identify the existence of joint account holders. An account owned by two or more individuals with rights of survivorship is not subject to probate.
If one of the joint owners dies, the surviving account owner is vested with the ownership title to the account. This way, it is possible to withdraw money from the account without a court order.
An account with neither designated beneficiaries nor joint account holders is subject to probate. In such cases, the court must appoint an executor to administer the asset. With statutory authority to handle the deceased’s estate, the executor can access the account and withdraw the remaining funds.