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My sister died last Friday. My brother had been designated POA for her medical and financial needs. She had more than enough money in her checking account, which he could sign for as POA, to pay for her funeral expenses. BUT, the funeral home director told us that POA ends at the death of the person. Unless the checking account has a co-signature for the POA person, you cannot write any checks to pay for anything. Since we made her funeral arrangements on the day she died, he said they would probably honor the check for her funeral expenses, but if we had come the next day, we would have had to come up with the money. My brother and I had no idea that this happened, we thought he would continue with the POA after her death, until we could settle all her unpaid expenses that occurred during her illness. She was only ill for two and a half months, and it never occurred to us that we needed him to be added to her checking account. Maybe everyone knows this already, I am just thinking we were not the only ones caught off guard. Now we have to figure out how he becomes her executor and can use her money to pay for other leftover expenses. This was in Ohio, other states may not have the same thing. Just trying to give a head's up to others regarding this.

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Once your loved one dies, the executor of the estate is responsible for the settlement of debts and any remaining assets to the heirs in accordance with the will. I have been DPOA and executor for my parents, my aunt, and one of our long time neighbors, which made the process fairly seemless.
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wow thanks, I am POA (and my brother) for our mother. Dad had passed away May 2020. I will check with our Elder Attorney to find out what will happen if our mother passes and we need to pay off any bills, etc.  thanks again
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So sorry for your loss.....my dad passed away this past August but we had everything taken care of at the time of his passing. One very valuable thing that we learned was when it came to his car, it was only in his name so we went and had the title Transferable upon Death to me that way his car would not be held up in probate. He also insisted that I was added to all of his bank accounts....which made it very easy so that I could continue to take care of his remaining bills.
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Lindberg62, good info., but note that it isn't just life insurances that will pay directly to beneficiaries, as all or most other financial accounts (e.g. checking, savings, IRAs, 401ks) can also "pay on death" (POD) to designated beneficiaries without those beneficiaries having to be named as co-signers on the account. Such beneficiaries have to be named by the account holder(s) before death, but the account holder(s) maintain(s) 100% full ownership while still living. One or more persons can be named as POD (e.g. I have one account with 8 people designated as POD, each with a 12.5% share). In addition to primary POD(s), you can also have secondary/contingent POD(s), which is useful just in case you and your primary POD happen to die in the same accident. Finally, as I alluded to in a prior post, designating PODs can often reduce the deceased's remaining assets to below the "small estate" limit, which allows avoidance of legal fees and long delays associated with formal probate.
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Power of Attorney works to care for things when they become unable to do it themselves. Setting up all accounts - banking, savings, bills, credit cards, shares, IRA's, etc, Life Insurance, etc with a co-signer makes a huge difference. Did she have a will? If your brother is the executor, he will eventually be able to take care of everything. Some states require Probate, unless you have Trusts that don't require that. Insurance policies will pay out to Beneficiaries as soon as the Executor of the Will files the Death certificate. Hope this helps.
Sorry for the loss of your sister.
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bicycler, thank you so much for that info! I will tell my brother before he goes to see the lawyer next week.
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OldAlto, I'm sorry for the loss of your sister and understand how confusing everything can be. I appreciate that you've taken the time to keep this forum's readers up to date on your brother's progress in dealing with your sister's bills and estate and it sounds like solid progress is being made -- this progress may seem slow, but that's almost always the case with formal probate, even with experienced executors.

One legal provision that exists in most states and might help your brother (or other readers), but is often overlooked, is what's known as the "Small Estate" probate shortcuts. Under this provision, estates under a specified dollar limit ($100,000 in Idaho) an heir can bypass the requirement for formal probate filings. Although my guardianship/conservatorship ended upon my dad's death, just like a DPOA would have, using Idaho's "small estate affidavit" allowed me to pay his outstanding bills after his death and then simply transfer his remaining non-trust assets directly into his trust, but I also could have distributed those funds directly to his other heirs if I had wanted to do that. I did not hire an attorney to help me with this as there was no need for one because the "small estate affidavit" standard form was simple and quickly accepted at my dad's financial institutions. Note that assets in my dad's trust did not count toward Idaho's $100,000 "small estate" limit and neither did his life insurances or any other assets with designated beneficiaries. Hope this information is helpful.

Here's a link to one of many descriptions of "small estate" probate shortcuts:
https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/avoid-probate-book/chapter8-2.html
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I am the original writer of this post. The information everyone has given is priceless and amazing. Thank all of you for your EARNED wisdom. Sounds like many of you have been through a lot of hassle and red tape to learn how to manage this situation. I spoke to my brother yesterday and he seems organized and has an appointment with my deceased sister's attorney to go over the will. I still do not know if an executor is designated in the will. My sister went to great lengths to have her living will and POA documents ready for her last days, and I can only hope the attorney who prepared her documents was wise enough to allow for the possibility of her needing an executor. I will know soon. My brother has been VERY stressed over this whole event, and I hesitate to press him with a lot of questions. He has handled everything perfectly, albeit slowly, from when she was disabled until now. He is 77 years old and in good health physically and mentally, but...he's still 77 and this is hard on him. I am also in my 70s. I can't thank you all enough for answering my post. Bless you all.
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Note to Willmartin: POA automatically ends at death, nothing to do with what someone did. It is fact. I was surprised to learn this too when my Mom passed, but thankfully we had a joint checking account for a couple years.
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Ye, it is the same in Indiana. I read a book published by nolo about being executor to estates. It should be a law that lawyers writing poas forewarn poa designee s what will happen when someone dies. Since I read the book, I transferred a bunch of my mother's money into an empty account in my name to pay the bills prior to her death through my tablet. The bank freezes deceased s accounts..we have to wait for probate court to assign me as executor, then i have to get the bank to cooperate..in the meantime..you get to pay the bills out of your own pocket unless you have siphoned money into a new account..its crazy. I'm sorry for your shock and loss.
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Imho, if the decedent has a will, the executor of the will takes over. I am so sorry for the loss of your sister and send deepest condolences.
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WilliMartin - a POA ends at death because the person you are supposed to be acting in their best interests has ceased to exist. The executor they named takes over and there is a court process to get an executor appointed if no one was named in the will. You will get good advice from various posters, but my take is be prepared with at least some knowledge beforehand of the legal process if you are caring for an elder.
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WilliMartin, if there is a will, then if there is a named executor, they go to the court and officially become appointed to handle the estate (assets, bank account, real property). If they don’t want to be executor, then anyone can step up and ask the court to make them executor. If there is no will then *someone* will have to go to the court and petition to be executor/administrator of the estate. Otherwise everything just sits and would eventually be turned over to the state as “unclaimed property”.
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First of all, sorry for your loss. I have no answers for you and now I’m feeling triggered 😡. WHO exactly decides what happens to her money and assets if your brother who had POA is no longer allowed to pay her final expenses with her money? The state? The county? Is there possibly another relative or friend who may have convinced her to sign something that nullified your authority after death so that they would get access to the assets? This doesn’t sound right at all. Are the state and going to make sure her expenses are paid, or are they going to waste it on other nonsensical crap and leave you with the bill? By the way thanks for this warning.
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I am very sorry for your loss- it’s so kind of you to warn us. Thanks. Great info
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Adding to my other comments:

A will is a GOOD document to have done, by anyone at any age. If you have minor children, you'd likely want to assign guardian for them. If you have assets, you'd want to specify what is done with them, who gets what, etc. If you have a trusted person, family or not, assign them as executor of the will. I would imagine passing without a will can be a real nightmare, if there are enough assets and people crawling out of the woodwork with their hands out!

If possible, esp if getting up in years or have a terminal condition, set up the bulk of assets in an irrevocable trust. A primary account to pay regular bills would be best to have at least one additional "owner", as when the primary account holder passes, the remaining funds can be used by the secondary "owners." If naming more than one exec or trustee, perhaps best to make one the alternate. There should be one, in the event that the primary passes or doesn't want the duty. Otherwise, the courts have to name someone.

I would only recommend a Life Estate for property (house, condo, etc) IF the person has a terminal condition (yes, we are all terminal) and can remain living at the property to the end or close to it. The EC atty set up mom's condo as a Life Estate. Unfortunately, thanks to her, we couldn't keep her in the condo, so it made selling it and dealing with the distribution of funds more difficult (we put all of it into the trust, for her care.)

Regardless of whether you have a will or not, in order to be the exec/admin, it will have to go through probate. A family member's sister was named exec for her will. She lived over 1000 miles away and tried using the attorney who had written the will. He was less than efficient and very difficult to contact (he also, I discovered, was almost disbarred for using other's escrow money!!) The sister passed a year later, and it was difficult getting info from the atty. Turns out she had named me alternate exec, but neither told me. Because of the bad atty, the sister took all the Estate account money! In error, the CD that was maturing was directed to the original account and they missed it! Thankfully it was there and I could then distribute what the person had requested in the will. I was new to all this, so I hired my own atty and we had to go through probate to get me named.

Dealing with it now, mom had a will, with two of us named and wishes for distribution. However, I still need to go through the court to be officially named as exec/admin. If not for the MC refund and stimulus, this might not have been necessary. The newest stimulus (clarification: valid for anyone alive Jan 1, 2020!!), refund of the previous stimulus she didn't get but was entitled to, deposit refund, interest on that deposit, the $25 required to open the SS rep payee account, NH refund/credit on taxes due to the virus, are all going to have to go through probate.

The bulk of mom's assets were in the trust, which WE can deal with, no court or lawyers needed, unless brothers decide to be PITAS! So, I highly recommend setting up a trust if there are a lot of assets. Any money received after death will likely require probate, but if nothing anticipated, the trust becomes the beneficiaries (cap gains may apply - recommendation I got was to open a brokerage acct, where most if not all assets can move without sale, skipping cap gains, then I plan to open my own trust and transfer it all back, with minimal or no cap gains!)
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Sorry for your loss.

Also sorry that those who *COULD* inform us don't. It's hard enough dealing with the loss, and then having to scramble because they didn't inform us (our atty could have been much more helpful, but I've done most of the work needed myself!!! It's not like I didn't ask...)

Read through all the responses. We aren't from Ohio, so don't know the process there, but if she had limited assets, you may be able to do the E-file for probate to be named executor/administrator. NOTE: probate required for whether there is a will or not. Easier, I would think, for a will, but still required. I'm not a legal person, but I've been able, so far, to get all this done myself. Getting the Statement of Counsel I needed (will written out of state) was a pain, but only because of that atty.

If either or both of you feel you can do this, you could proceed without legal fees (other than court fee.) I called the court first and was emailed instructions. I got through that okay, but called again about needing to submit this ASAP based on reading online that our state requires submitting the will within 30 days. She told me to submit, I could attach later. The final call was the worst (35 min on hold!), but she walked me through the steps needed to attach, but I had to wait as the case # hadn't been assigned yet! Once the # was available, piece of cake to attach!

EIN (tax ID) for estate will be needed, but you can get that online. That will be needed to set up the estate account, but you'll need to be appointed exec/admin by the court first.

Once you have been assigned exec/admin and have the EIN, you can open an Estate Account and move all remaining funds to that account and the exec/admin can access them (you can both req being named exec/admin.)
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See my comments below and I wish to add one important point. I don't care how old you are, who you are, or what your situation is - you must have a VALID WILL at all times in your life. In addition you MUST OPENLY COMMUNICATE with those around you so everyone knows what is going on at all times. If you are not sure of what to do, seek counsel of an attorney - BUT EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING WHO WALKS THE FACE OF THE EARTH MUST AS A PRIORITY HAVE THEIR PERSONAL AFFAIRS IN A CURRENT AND PERFECTLY CORRECT ORGANIZED STATE AT ALL TIMES WHILE THEY ARE ALIVE. There can be no excuse NOT to do this.
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Yes, a Power of Attorney ends upon death. At this time a designated executor of the will takes over (I hope she had a will and named him executor). If not, the court must appoint an executor. One a person is the final executor of the will, ALL funds in the estate must be gathered up and put into an ESTATE account in the name of the deceased person. Then the executor can write checks using those funds from the estate account. That is the legal way this is handled. No one has to pay out of their pocket. The bills come out of the estate account which has all funds left at the time of death. When all are paid, it passes to the beneficiaries.
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"...we too are going through the process of handling her estate and "learning as we go" which can be a little stressful. We often feel in the dark."

Mushroom here (in the dark, but learning!)

Two of us had POAs (I was the only one to ever use it, but that's a different story!) Two of us (same 2) are executors of the will. When dementia came into play, we set up an irrevocable trust to keep most of her assets and condo - life estate, which was a BAD idea! We managed to sell the condo in 2018, with ALL assets put back into the trust to cover her care (the bulk went to the 3 of us, minimal to her.)

So, as trustees, the trust is for us to deal with - no legal required. HOWEVER, the refund and interest on the deposit for MC is in my possession, as well as the last stimulus check (despite doing taxes electronic, they mailed a check.) There will likely be a refund on the final tax return, because they processed the first stimulus before/just as the 2019 taxes were done, used the 2018 return and dinged her big time! We can get the rest, but it will, along with the above, require an estate account.

The EC atty has been LESS THAN helpful. He was notified the day before and the day of her passing. NOTHING useful, if at all, provided.

I managed to get the EIN online (it was under maintenance, so I had to wait, then it was iffy for a couple of days, but I got through and got the EIN myself, right away - PRINT everything!)

The checks are NOT made out to "Estate of", so it will be interesting to see if once we have an estate account they can be deposited (as noted in another comment, that EC atty suggested I just deposit them and don't tell the bank she's passed!!! NO NO NO NO!!! A small check, maybe, just maybe, but not the amounts I am dealing with!)

I applied for E-file probate in the current state (will was another state) and he was a REAL PITA about getting the Statement of Counsel I needed. There are, at least in this state, multiple levels for estate filing, depending on the size of the estate.

Finally they have assigned a case #, but waiting for update for appointment(s) to be assigned executor before I can actually open the estate account. Two of us are named, but the court has to give blessings.

Things to note that attorneys, EVEN EC attys, don't tell you:

** Federal entities (SS, Medicare, IRS, VA, fed'l pensions) do NOT accept POA.
** POAs end at death (they are granted by the person, so they won't be valid when the person passed.)
** ANY funds not jointly owned or under a trust require probate, will or no will.
** EIN for estate can be requested online (fastest method, no legal fees!)
** E-file for probate required some of their help, but can be done by YOU
** SS rep payee isn't difficult to get (PITA about my reporting usage!)
** SS and pension funds for the month of death are denied or taken back.

WARNING! Despite SS being paid in arrears (like you work a week, then get paid next week), they DON'T pay for the month of death, whether they pass on the 1st day or the last - not a dime. IF they deposit it, they WILL come back for it, so don't spend it!

** Having funeral expenses prepaid is a boon! Thankfully mom was covered!

If I think of more, I will add them later. If any questions about what's listed, ask away! As noted, I have not been officially appointed executor/administrator of the will yet, so the account isn't opened and the checks sit here, but if there are issues with not being "to the Estate of", I'll also update. In the case of the deposit refund, most likely the facility just approved the refund and didn't make mention that mom passed (as if she moved away and got the refund), otherwise I should think the bank would know better. I did when handling my mother's cousin's estate. The final check was to her estate - the legal team in charge of the guardian for her husband said there was no estate, make it out to them. Nope. This is it, deal with it!
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Wow, Thank you for this information!!!
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"Did your sister leave a will naming an executor?

If she did not (that is called "dying intestate") you will need to go to court to have someone appointed administrator of her estate."

****Even if one has a will, if there are non-jointly owned funds or property, one still needs to go through probate to be appointed executor/administrator.

Most of mom's funds were in a trust, being used to cover the cost of MC not covered by SS and pension, plus any other needs. THOSE we can handle without court intervention.

The deposit and interest for MC were sent in checks in HER name. The latest stimulus ($600) was sent in a check (although we used electronic filing and refunds, this one came as a check.) She will likely have a refund on the 2020 filing, to recoup what they erroneously stripped from the first stimulus. FWIW, I KNEW we would have to do probate to handle these, through an Estate account. Her main checking is okay, as 2 of us were on the account already. POA is a power of authority granted by the person, so if the person passes on, then that power goes away.

"I am surprised that the lawyer who prepared the Power of Attorney did not explain that it ended at death."

****I'm not surprised. Maybe they just ASSUME we know the details, but most of the time none of this gets explained. IMAGINE THIS: I secured an EIN online through the IRS for an estate account. I contacted the EC atty even before she passed, to get advice on how to proceed. Other than saying ensure nothing's in her name, he didn't follow up. When I asked about what court, he was still focused on MA, where mom lived when the will was done. She lived in NH for 4 years, so no, we CAN'T file in MA. HE should know that!. So, I figured out myself how to file online (courts are not allowing people in.) I have apparently the only "original" will and the DCs. These have to be mailed, so I asked if atty had a copy. He couldn't find one - seriously???? When I was ready to submit the E-file, it needed a Statement of Counsel, as the will was written out of state. I had to scan TEN pages of the will to email to him (my scanner is only one page at a time) so he could review something HE wrote up! When I asked about it, his excuse was 3 clients passed over the weekend, so he was busy!!! Dude - my mother passed almost a month ago (at that time) AND she was a client, but we don't deserve a minute? Then when he does get to filling out the one page form, he's telling me they have to call the court to find out how to submit it (and therefore charge more time.) I said NOPE, you send me the PDF and I attach it to my E-file, per online and phone instructions I already have!

Nasty mail pending for 2 bros and 1 useless atty (once paperwork is dry and all funds are distributed.) Then, move on without ANY of them.
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That is correct - ends at death. Good point for others on this site to consider. Have more than one name on assets with asset belonging to survivor(s) at the death of one person. Just like in your situation, getting ill or sudden death can happen at any time. If you know someone that you TOTALLY trust, add their name to your accounts. You can't just add someone to a bank account without the person knowing you did it because they have to fill out a signature form for the bank, so be sure this additional signator is trustworthy.

And, get a will! When the POA ends the executor can deal with after death issues. Be specific that you want funeral/cremation or whatever paid before any other debts and distribution of what is left to heirs.
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My DPOA covered funeral arrangements after death. I was also on her checking acct.
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Hello OldAlto, we are all sorry for your loss. I lost my 96-year-old mother in late September and we too are going through the process of handling her estate and "learning as we go" which can be a little stressful. We often feel in the dark.

I was my mother's POA (and HCP, I might add). I am also listed as co-executor (along with my sister) of my mother's Last Will and Trust. What enabled me to pay her first bills immediately (funerary expenses, and regular expenses such as her condo fees, etc) was that she already had my name on her Bank account (a joint account even though the money was hers). When she died, I was still able to write checks on that account.

Any money that came to her after her death (checks or refunds) had to be handed over to the lawyers handling her estate where they set up a special estate bank account for the purpose of paying more bills as they came up. All paid expenses not from that account should be recorded and submitted to the legal team as those expenses are deducted from her estate tax liability (which means less estate taxes to pay). So keep good records of what you pay out after your LO dies.

My mother also had some retirement assets and mutual funds. The lawyer and her broker/financial advisor worked together to transfer all those assets to a trust account in the name of her estate (requires a different tax ID) from which I (the executor) will continue to write checks as needed for upcoming expenses as the year continues (legal fees, tax prep fees, state and federal taxes, estate taxes and condo fees until the title is transferred).

We would not know what to do in terms of estate tax returns, court filings, etc, without our lawyer. We'd be lost, frankly. I don't even know if it's possible for a non-lawyer to do it. The lawyer has to prepare the estate tax returns, file all appropriate court papers and get documentation from the court (that the bank required) for me to close her bank account (sometimes a death certificate is enough, but one special account required court papers). We will receive bills for all the legal assistance we are needing (which will be paid for out of her estate, as stated in her Last Will and Trust). We accept that resolving the legal matters around her death will be one of the major expenses that we will encounter. Whatever is left of my mother's estate will then be distributed according to her wishes.

So, yes ... so so important to get your affairs in order:
-- POA (a joint bank account is also very helpful)
-- Last Will and Trust
-- Assign executor of your will
-- Enlist the help of tax preparers and legal team (and broker, if need be)
-- Medical and health related matters (such as Health Care Proxy, Durable Health Power of Attorney, MOLST/POLST, Advance Directives, "5 wishes" ...). Have those difficult but important conversations early around your LO's wishes regarding end of life care and advance directives, then you won't be left agonizing what to do in a time of crisis where life and death choices must be made, and your LO cannot speak for him/herself.

My mother was great about covering all the bases. I am so grateful for how she planned everything, taught me how to do her taxes while she was still cognitively able to do so and got me on board with her financial management several years before she passed. She also was very direct and clear about her wishes regarding end of life care and interventions she did and did not want. When it came time to assist her in her dying process (hospice was a great support and helped my mother not suffer), I had no doubt about what she would have wanted when she was no longer able to communicate those things to me. Again, so grateful for her foresight and foreplanning!

Thank you OldAlto for the reminder to get our affairs in order. We never know what the future holds. It is a loving act towards those who survive us.

Bless you all.
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I had no idea about any of this. My mom doesn't have any money except her monthly social security checks. I am not on her bank account. Funeral costs will be paid by our tribe. (We are Native American). I guess I will find someone to consult with before its too late. Thank you for the heads up and I'm so sorry for your loss. ❤
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PoA ends on the death of the person who granted the agency. The Executor then takes over to manage the estate. One way to simplify this is to have the agent with the PoA also be the executor. That way they can continue after a change of legal status.
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I’m sorry for the loss of your sister. My mom’s banker advised POA (Power of Attorney) and POD (Payable on Death) to be listed on her checking account. There were no other accounts. An elder law attorney recommended the same, so as to avoid probate court. When my mom passed in November, I could write checks from her account and then the bank transferred her remaining funds to my account electronically.
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Sorry for your loss.

When a person dies, the executor of their will must take over responsibilities.
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Sorry for your loss, my prayers are with u. Hugs. Thank u for the information.
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