When Does a Power of Attorney in Minnesota End?

The answer depends on the type of power of attorney you have.  A power of attorney in Minnesota is a legal document that authorizes someone (the agent) to act on your behalf.  You can authorize your agent to do many things such as sign checks and tax returns, enter into contracts, buy or sell real estate, make financial or business decisions, or nearly anything else.  A power of attorney is sometimes tailored for a specific purpose, meaning that your agent cannot act outside that stated purpose.  A regular power of attorney ends under one of three conditions: when its purpose is fulfilled, when you become incapacitated or at your death.

A durable power of attorney, in contrast, remains effective even if you become incapacitated. If you executed a durable power of attorney, the powers will continue until your death unless you decide otherwise. It must end when you die, however, because it does not give your attorney-in-fact the authority to handle your affairs after your death.  Those issues are usually addressed by a will or living trust.

What situations will terminate a Durable Power of Attorney?

There are a few situations that can affect when a durable power of attorney ends.  For example, a court can invalidate a power of attorney.  Although it is rare, a court can revoke the power of attorney if there is evidence that you were not mentally competent when it was signed or if you were under undue influence or defrauded into signing the instrument.  In some states, including Minnesota, a durable power of attorney automatically terminates when there is a divorce and the ex-spouse is the attorney-in-fact, which seems a reasonable consequence.

Why would you want to revoke a Power of Attorney?

There can be many reasons that a power of attorney may need to be revoked.  For example, if the circumstances have changed and you no longer need someone to act on your behalf, you would probably decide the power of attorney is no longer necessary.  Also, if you no longer trust the person acting on your behalf or if you have found someone more suitable to act as your attorney-in-fact, you may decide to terminate the existing power of attorney and execute a new one.  Another common reason is that the purpose of the power of attorney has been fulfilled.

What should I do if I want to revoke my Power of Attorney?

If you choose to revoke your power of attorney, the revocation should be in writing and notarized.  The language of the revocation is simple.  It should include your name, the statement that you are of “sound mind,” and that you desire to revoke the existing power of attorney. The revocation can also provide the date of execution of the original power of attorney and identify the attorney-in-fact who was chosen.

Under Minnesota law, the revocation does not become effective until the attorney-in-fact receives notice. So, you cannot “secretly” revoke a power of attorney.  Also, it is a good practice to notify any financial institutions with which your attorney-in-fact may have done business on your behalf.