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Writing Checks as POA after Death: Repercussions?

I made a mistake and didnít know that I couldnít write checks on my momís account after she died until the will is probated. Now I am stuck with phone calls and hot checks plus hot check charges from the creditors and the bank.

I was writing checks as power of attorney and assumed that I could continue to do so after she died to pay her bills. I found out that her account was frozen and all of the checks were being returned. What can I do other than get the will probated and repay the bills? Will I have to pay all of the charges since I was unaware of the situation?


The account, as you have undoubtedly learned, is now owned by your mother's estate. If the balance in your late mother's accounts is sufficiently small, your state may permit you to ask the bank to pay you, as the next of kin, the entire balance without having to probate the will. Check with the bank to find out whether it can help you in that way (but be aware that the law varies from state to state).

If your bank cannot do that for you, you'll need to contact the probate court to proceed with probating the will. While that process is going on, you may be tempted to deal with any of your mother's creditors directly. It would be better not to do so, since getting reimbursed by the estate for money you advance from your funds may be complicated. Instead, explain the situation to the creditors (most of whom will work with you), and then make them whole as soon as you are able from the estate (we are assuming you will be named the estate's personal representative). Some of the creditors may even forgive any of the bounced check fees.

Published on 6/05/07