I have a properly notarized Power of Attorney letter for a single relative in Kentucky.

Does that relative also need a Last Will and Testament, or does my PoA cover whatever may need to be done when they eventually pass away?

2 Answers 2


There are two relevant laws of Kentucky. KRS Chapter 457 is about power of attorney, and KRS 457.100 specifies how the POA terminates, in particular (1)(a) says that it terminates when the principal dies (therefore on death of the relative, you have no power).

KRS Chapter 391 governs intestate succession i.e. what happens if you don't have a will. The disposition of the estate depends on what living relatives there are.

If the person is unmarried, the estate goes to the children or descendants. If there are no children, it goes to the parents; otherwise to siblings.

If there are no living relatives whatsoever, then the estate goes to the state in escheat.

A will is therefore necessary if the person wants something other than intestate default. Also, inheritance via intestacy is procedurally inconvenient compared to a simple will saying who gets what.

  • 1
    FWIW, the term what the estate going to the state because a person has no sufficiently close living relatives is "escheat."
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 15, 2021 at 20:36

Death ends a power of attorney

To be clear, the death of either of you.

In general, so does your relative becoming legally incompetent (e.g. severe illness, dementia, vegetative state etc.) unless it is an enduring power of attorney.

So yes, they need a will.

  • How would my relative becoming legally incompetent affect the PoA they had me sign to manage their health, financial, etc decisions for them?
    – warren
    Jun 15, 2021 at 13:18
  • 1
    The agent's death terminated that agent's authority, going forward, but not necessarily the POA instrument, which may name a successor agent.
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 15, 2021 at 20:33
  • 1
    @warren because that’s the law
    – Dale M
    Jun 15, 2021 at 20:49
  • @DaleM - what's the point of a PoA to handle medical decisions if someone becomes unable to do so if "the law" says you can't? That's irrational
    – warren
    Jun 16, 2021 at 11:05
  • 1
    @DaleM - whole point of a PoA is to be able to make legal decisions for someone else. What you're saying the law says is, "you know that document your friend signed so you could make decisions for them? Yeah. It's no good because they're in a coma." That's not how a PoA works in any state I've ever seen.
    – warren
    Jun 16, 2021 at 15:48

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