Power of Attorney Services in Minneapolis
Compassionate Legal Guidance in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Throughout Minnesota
Every adult should have a power of attorney. While it can be unpleasant to think about, the unfortunate reality is that tragedy can strike at any time. A devastating car accident or an undiagnosed condition could abruptly send anyone to the hospital and leave them in a state where they are unable to communicate or advocate for themselves.
A power of attorney allows you to appoint a trusted agent to make many types of decisions on your behalf. Powers of attorney have a legal obligation to act in your best interest, and you can determine the scope of their responsibilities.
Our power of attorney services in Minneapolis can assist you with formally appointing an agent. Our experienced team of Minneapolis estate planning lawyers at Guttman Law can review your individual circumstances and help you appoint a power of attorney with the legal authorizations to act on your behalf should tragedy strike.
Why You Need a Power of Attorney
If you were suddenly unable to speak for yourself, who would act on your behalf? Who would pay your bills, manage your business affairs, or make other important and timely decisions?
Should you become incapacitated without a designated power of attorney, no one will necessarily have the legal authority to manage your affairs, access critical documents, or advocate for your interests. Your bills will likely go unpaid. No one will necessarily be able to negotiate billing for your healthcare. Pressing business interests or real estate deals will likely remain static until you recover.
It is important to understand that a power of attorney cannot be designated after someone has become incapacitated. Many families encounter an unenviable situation when a loved one is seriously injured or becomes gravely ill without any estate plan in place. Without a power of attorney designation, no one can necessarily act on the incapacitated party’s behalf. In these cases, the family will need to go through the costly and protracted process of requesting a conservatorship or guardianship from a court.
You can save your loved ones a tremendous amount of worry, stress, and money by setting up a power of attorney. You will also have the peace of mind that someone will be acting in your best interest should you ever be unable to communicate.
Understanding the Responsibilities of a Power of Attorney
There are several types of powers of attorney. For purposes of estate planning, many will designate what is called a “springing” power of attorney. This means that the chosen agent’s legal authority does not “trigger” until a specified event takes place. In most cases, this event is incapacitation or any other situation where the principal is unable to communicate.
You define the scope of the authority given to your chosen power of attorney. You can give as little or as much power to your agent as you see fit. For example, you may only wish for your power of attorney to keep up with bills and complete routine transactions, such as paying your rent, car lease, and managing healthcare expenses.
You could also choose to give your agent substantially more responsibilities. If you run a business, you may permit your power of attorney to make decisions that they believe are in your best interest. They can be authorized to conduct transactions, apply for government benefits, make investments, manage property, and file taxes.
There are some hard limits to a power of attorney's responsibilities that are designed to prevent abuse. An agent named as a power of attorney has a legal obligation to act in your best interest, so they cannot make any decision that is inconsistent with your instructions or wishes. They cannot elect to pay themselves unless compensation is explicitly defined in the power of attorney document. An agent also cannot alter your estate plan or make decisions for you should you pass away; at that point, your personal representative named in your will assumes control of your estate.
Our power of attorney services in Minneapolis can help you evaluate and determine what responsibilities you wish for your chosen agent to have. We can review your circumstances and make recommendations about what types of authority you should consider.
Designating a Power of Attorney in Minnesota
You must be extremely clear and specific when defining the responsibilities of your power of attorney when writing and formalizing your document. You will need to explicitly list what types of authority you are granting your agent as well as any instructions that you wish for them to follow in the carrying out of their duties. If you are designating a springing power of attorney, you will also need to unambiguously state what conditions trigger your agent’s authority.
Keep in mind that you may need to provide your designated power of attorney with information on how to access your digital assets. You can provide important legal consents in your power of attorney document that will give your agent authority to access certain types of online accounts, but you may also need to provide passwords for various devices that contain critical files, records, and data.
In the state of Minnesota, you can appoint any legal adult to serve as your power of attorney. You can also designate a successor attorney-in-fact that can serve as a “backup” power of attorney if your first choice is unable or unwilling to carry out their responsibilities. Many will choose a loved one. Make sure it is someone that you deeply trust: This person will have at least some level of access to your finances and property.
In order to enact a power of attorney document, you must be of sound mind and able to make decisions on your own. This can be important in situations where an elderly loved one is already showing signs of mental incompetence. If someone is determined not to be mentally competent at the time of signing, the power of attorney document will not be legally enforceable.
Powers of attorney documents must also be dated, signed, and notarized. You cannot simply write down who you wish to handle your affairs should you become incapacitated: The document must be signed in the presence of a notary public in order for it to be valid in Minnesota.
Our power of attorney services in Minneapolis can help you avoid common errors when drafting authorization documents. Our experienced estate planning lawyers at Guttman Law can help draft and review enforceable power of attorney documents and can address any concerns you may have.