Financial Powers of Attorney

What is a financial power of attorney?

A financial power of attorney is a legal document which allows the drafter (commonly known as the “principal”) to name a person (known as the “agent” or the “attorney-in-fact”) to act on behalf of the principal in certain circumstances.   A financial power of attorney does give the agent the authority to make health care decisions.  If you wish to authorize an individual to make health care decisions for you, you should sign a health care directive.

Who will be my Agent/Attorney-in-Fact?

You have the ability to appoint an individual of your choosing.  Many people appoint a trusted friend or family member.  Your agent must be eighteen (18) years of age or older.  You may also name alternate agent(s) in case your primary agent is unwilling or unable to serve.

What powers can I give to my agent?

A principal must assign specific powers to his or her agent.  These powers can include the authority to sell real estate, paying bills, managing bank accounts and making investments.  A financial power of attorney CANNOT give the agent the power to prepare a will, the power to vote or the power to seek a divorce on the principal’s behalf.

What is the benefit of having a financial power of attorney?

If you are unable to make financial decisions for yourself due to incapacity or illness, your agent/attorney-in-fact will act on your behalf in the areas enumerated in your financial power of attorney.  However, if you become incapacitated without a power of attorney, someone (typically a family member or friend) would need to arrange for a court proceeding (which can be costly) to be appointed as your guardian or conservator in order to manage your finances.

What if I change my mind? Can I revoke my financial power of attorney?

Yes, provided you still have the mental capacity and fitness to execute a power of attorney, you can- at any time- revoke your financial power of attorney.  The Minnesota Statutes set forth specific methods for revocation of a power of attorney.

Will my agent/attorney-in-fact be able to act on my behalf after my death?

No.  A financial power of attorney cannot act after your death.

If you are interested in learning more about creating a financial power of attorney, please contact Swanson Law Office at (651) 295-8762 to schedule a consultation.