When parents plan for the end of life, they often grant their children power of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal document a parent can use to let her children make decisions for her. If your mother grants you power of attorney to sell her home, you can only do so while she remains alive.
Power of Attorney
When your mother grants you power of attorney, she grants you the right to make specific decisions on her behalf. Your right to act on your mother's behalf is dependent on the kinds of powers you receive, but also upon the capacity of your mother. You mother can only grant you power of attorney when she is of sound mind and must do so in accordance with the laws of your state.
Death of the Principal
When you receive power of attorney from your mother, you become her attorney-in-fact. The person granting the power of attorney, called a principal, can only allow the attorney-in-fact to do what the principal is allowed to do. As soon as the principal dies, the attorney-in-fact loses all powers to act on the principal's behalf. No power of attorney continues after the principal dies, and you cannot sell the principal's home after you learn of her death.
Regardless of what your mother wants to happen to her house after her death, the house can only be transferred to a new owner through the probate process. In the probate process, a person, usually called an executor or a personal representative, must determine how the property gets transferred. If your mother nominated you to act as executor through her will, you might be able to sell the home, but not as power of attorney.
Even if your mother has granted you power of attorney and wants you to sell her home for her, you may have to register the document before you can conduct the transaction. Some states require that an attorney-in-fact who conveys real estate or interests in real estate must record the power of attorney document. For example. Ohio requires that the document be registered with the county recorder where the property is located.
Roger Thorne is an attorney who began freelance writing in 2003. He has written for publications ranging from "MotorHome" magazine to "Cruising World." Thorne specializes in writing for law firms, Web sites, and professionals. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.