What a power of attorney can and cannot do
Many clients are given powers of attorney for their finances when working with their estate planning attorney. They often file the documents away without ever showing them either to their intended agent or to the financial institution involved. Even if the agent knows the paperwork exists, they often assume they just need to take the power of attorney to the bank or brokerage company and all will be well. What often happens is that many financial institutions have their own forms and will not recognize the one drafted by the family attorney. It is much wiser to check with the institution before an emergency arises as to what they require to be in the document before they will accept it. Also, many people have the misconception a power of attorney is still valid, even after the person giving the power of attorney dies. A power of attorney is only valid before the death of the grantor, not afterward.