Executor vs. Power of Attorney: What’s the Difference, & Can They Be the Same Person?

Older Man Signing a Power of Attorney

In your estate planning, you’ve likely heard the phrases executor and power of attorney. You may be wondering what each of these terms means, and whether or not someone named as your executor can also be named power of attorney.


What Is an Executor?

An executor is someone chosen to carry out the conditions set out in your will. This individual is often a family member or trusted friend that you think can handle the responsibility and can stay organized through the process.

Your executor will be responsible for making sure any debts that remain after your death are paid off and making sure that all assets are divided or disposed of according to your wishes. This often means finding all your assets, contacting any of your heirs, attending any court proceedings, and filing your final tax return. Your executor also must complete tasks such as closing out any credit cards and bank accounts, as well as notifying the Social Security Administration of your death if you receive benefits.


What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is someone you designate to speak for you and act in your best interest regarding legal, financial, and/or healthcare matters. Again, this individual is often a trusted family member or friend, and many people choose a power of attorney who lives nearby.

There are different types of powers of attorney. General powers of attorney allow the person you designate to handle a variety of affairs on your behalf, including running a business or buying and selling property. A special power of attorney designates specifically what that person will handle, whether it’s managing the sale of a house while you’re out of the country or collecting money owed to you. A healthcare power of attorney allows the person you designate to make decisions regarding your healthcare, including major decisions such as terminating life support. A durable power of attorney allows any existing powers of attorney to stay in place if you become ill or incapacitated.


Can the Same Person Be My Executor & My Power of Attorney?

Yes. The same person can serve as your will’s executor and your power of attorney.

The duties of the power of attorney cease upon your death, and the duties of the executor do not start until after you die. The same person can legally serve in both roles. The ability to have one person perform both roles is especially helpful if you have few close, trusted family or friends.


Experienced Estate Planning Attorney in Central Maryland

Whether you need to designate a power of attorney, want your will drawn up, or wish to get your full range of affairs in order, the experienced team at the Elder Law Office of David Wingate is here to help. We help you plan for the unthinkable so that you can continue to care for your family even after you’re physically gone. Schedule your consultation today!

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