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Monday, November 22, 2010

Why won't Power of Attorney show me the Will?

I had a question from a reader who seemed somewhat annoyed because the person acting under an Enduring Power of Attorney wouldn't show him the Will of the person who gave the Power of Attorney. With reader questions I don't always have full facts, and that's the case here.

My first question would be about the relationship of the reader asking the question to the person who gave the Power of Attorney (the "donor"). Unless the reader is the executor of the Will, I don't see that he or she has any right to ask to see the Will. The fact the reader is a spouse or child or grandchild of the donor won't give the reader any right to see the Will.

My next question would be whether the donor is alive or deceased. I assume the donor is still alive because there is someone acting under a Power of Attorney. However it also occurs to me that perhaps the donor has passed away and the Power of Attorney is refusing to hand it over to the executor. In other words, maybe the reader is the executor. If the donor is still alive, his Power of Attorney should not show the Will to anyone but the named executor. If the donor has passed away, the Power of Attorney MUST give the Will to the executor. But he still can't show it to anyone else.

In due time, the executor will notify everyone who is a beneficiary under the Will and tell each of them what they will inherit.

Wills aren't public property, though that is hard for people to accept. People can get pretty indignant when I tell them they have no right to see their parent's Will. For more about who can see Wills and who can't, click here to read my earlier post about that.

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