Miscellaneous - Power of Attorney

Armstrong v. Roberts, 211 S.W.3d 867 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2006, pet. filed).

Father named Daughter as his agent under a non-statutory power of attorney. Using this authority, Daughter opened three pay on death certificates of deposit naming various individuals, including herself, as the pay on death payees. The court concluded that Daughter had the authority to open the CDs because the power of attorney granted her broad and unlimited powers such as the power “to do any and every act and exercise any and every power that I might or could do or exercise.”

However, the court held that Daughter did not have the authority to designate the pay on death payees. The court relied on Probate Code § 439(b) which states that a pay on death account requires a written agreement “signed by the original payee.” Father did not sign the agreement and thus Daughter’s designations were ineffective.

Moral: An agent lacks the authority to name pay on death payees.