A power of attorney (POA) is a document which allows one person to represent or act on another’s behalf in business affairs, private affairs, court cases and other legal affairs, etc. The person drafting the Power of Attorney deed is called the Principal (or grantor or donor) while the other person being authorised on behalf of the former is known as an Attorney.
What Are Letters Of Administration?
Letters of administration are issued at a situation by a competent court when a person dies without a Will or if he has made a will but has not appointed any named executor to execute the will.
The obtainment of such letters of administration will give powers to the Attorney to carry out all the necessary procedures to have the heir of the deceased person receive his/her movable or immovable property. The legal heirs in such a case can apply for Letters of Administration from the competent court to get the estate of the deceased. Letters Of Administration may also be obtained for an estate that has not been covered in the subject matter of the will.
Now, let us assume a situation wherein a person “X” has died intestate i.e. without a will and “Y” is his sole legal heir. “Y” is settled abroad and he appoints “AB” as his Attorney under a Power of Attorney to obtain a Letter of Administration from a competent court and in order to be able to control matters concerning the property of ‘X’. The Attorney would discharge his duty as if the Principal, ‘Y’ were himself obtaining the Letters of Administration.
Duties Of An Attorney
The primary duty of an Attorney would be to ensure that all the properties belonging to the deceased person will be taken care of and transferred to the heir. In furtherance of this duty as an Attorney, he would ascertain the rest of the property that belonged to the deceased person. The Attorney would have to make an inventory of all the assets like, bank accounts, bank lockers, shares, securities, bank deposits, rents, etc. of the deceased person and transfer the same to the heir(s) effectively.
The duties of the Attorney would also include supervising legal matters related to obtaining the Letters of Administration. The Attorney is, consequently, bound to appoint a lawyer in his own accord, who would oversee the whole process of applying for the Letters Of Administration to the competent court and would also sign a ‘vakalatnama’ in his name to apply for such document. The Attorney appointed shall be fully responsible to obtain the Letters Of Administration from the court and his/her duties would also include signing petitions and other relevant documents that would be required for the process.
The Attorney shall keep himself abreast of all the matters related to the obtainment of such Letters of Administration from the appointed lawyers/law firm and update the Principal from time to time about the status of the pending proceedings.
The Attorney would also be duty bound to pay any duty on the estate of the deceased, if any. He would also have the authority to operate bank accounts, sign cheques and endorse other negotiable instruments.
In case the deceased owns any immoveable properties, the Attorney would also be under the obligation to collect rent and pay taxes for the same to the concerned governmental authorities.
Lastly, the Attorney shall be reimbursed from time to time for all the expenses that he may have incurred in obtaining such Letters of Administration. For the same purpose, he may open a bank account in his name so that all the money from the estate could be verified in the bank account.
The primary duty of the Attorney, hence, shall be to actualize the properties of the deceased in the name of the Principal and do all such acts that may be necessary in discharge of such duty, but at the same time indemnifying the Principal from any harm.
Frequently Asked Question
- Does the Attorney have full control over the estate as he has obtained the Letters of Administration?
No. The Attorney would not have complete control over the estate of the deceased except the powers granted to him under the Power Of Attorney by the Principal. He can do all such acts that are necessary in obtaining the Letters of Administration on behalf of the Principal. The Attorney is duty bound to keep the estate safe and protect it till such a time arrives when the he/she will have to hand over the estate to the Principal who is the rightful owner of the estate. The Attorney is merely doing his/her duty under the Power Of Attorney and as such the Principal would ratify all the acts done by the Attorney in pursuance of Letters of Administration.
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