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Powers of Attorney

In Minnesota, a Power of Attorney, also known as a Durable Power of Attorney, allows a person to to act on your behalf. While you can decide what powers to give this person, who is known as an "attorney-in-fact," in general these powers deal with financial matters such as banking transactions and transactions involving your property.

A Power of Attorney is an important piece of any successful estate plan as it allows someone to take care of your finances when you are incapacitated and unable to do so. For instance, a bank is not going to allow someone who doesn't have access to your account to get money out of it to pay your bills and other expenses. If you do not have a Power of Attorney, someone will have to go to court to appoint a guardian or conservator to handle a lot of your affairs, and this is both very expensive another source of stress in what is already a very difficult time.

A Power of Attorney can also be used if you are unable or unwilling to handle your financial affairs and would rather have somebody else have the power to do so for you.

There are numerous forms of Power of Attorney available, so it is important to work with a lawyer to help you make sure you are using the proper kind. Some of the types of Powers of Attorney in Minnesota are:

General- Very broad in scope.

Limited- Typically used for a short amount of time or a specific purpose.

Durable- Continues to operate after the principal (the person who made the power of attorney) becomes incapacitated.

Springing- Generally not effective until the principal becomes incapacitated.

Common Law- Power derived from legal precedent as opposed to a written document.

Statutory Short-Form- Created and authorized by Minnesota law to provide a uniform document for ease of use.

Does the person I appoint as my attorney-in-fact have to be an actual attorney?
No, anyone can serve as your attorney-in-fact. It is important to only give the Power of Attorney to someone that you trust, however, because the powers that this document grant that person allow them to act in your place.

Can I wait until I actually need someone to act for me to have a Power of Attorney prepared?
It is important to have your Power of Attorney prepared before you need it, because in many cases it is only going to be used when you are incapacitated. And one of the legal requirements for a Power of Attorney to be valid is that it must be executed by a person that is competent under the law. That means that if you are incapacitated, you will be unable to execute this document, and your family is going to have to go to court to have a guardian or conservator appointed to handle your affairs, which is an expensive procedure that you want to avoid if possible.