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When it comes to estate planning, it's important to consider who will make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to act as your agent and make decisions for you when you are unable to do so.
In Minnesota, a power of attorney terminates automatically at the time of the principal's death. At that point, the personal representative named in the will takes over.
The personal representative, also known as the executor, is appointed by the court through probate to manage the deceased person’s estate and carry out their wishes according to the terms of the Will. Their responsibilities include identifying and valuing assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing property to those entitled to distribution under the will. If the decedent had a trust-based estate plan, many of these responsibilities are instead handled by the trustee.
However, it is important to remember that a power of attorney only gives the agent authority to act on behalf of the principal while they are alive. Once the principal has passed away, the power of attorney is no longer valid, and the agent no longer has any legal authority to act on behalf of the deceased or their estate.
This means that the power of attorney can no longer be used to access bank accounts, pay bills, or handle other financial affairs for the decedent. This often leads to frustration and confusion for the family, especially when there are bills that need to be paid and final arrangements to make.
This is why it is important to work with an estate planning attorney to ensure that the family is best prepared for death. An estate planning attorney can help prepare the family by identifying key assets that can be accessible immediately, eliminating delays in administration, and ensuring the estate process can be completed efficiently. Families often share with us that they never realized how much work it is when someone dies. Working with an effective and experienced estate planning attorney can greatly reduce this burden. (Read more: The Importance of Having an Attorney Attending the Signing for Estate Plan and Estate Planning: Beneficiary Designations).
Overall, it is important to have a well-drafted will or trust in place. Without a will or trust, the distribution of assets is left up to the laws of the state, which may not align with the deceased's wishes. Additionally, if there are disputes among family members or other interested parties, it can lead to lengthy and costly legal battles.
By having a will or trust in place, the deceased can ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes, and that their loved ones are taken care of after they have passed away. It's also important to regularly review and update these documents to ensure they reflect the current circumstances and wishes of the deceased. How Often Should I Review My Estate Plan?
In summary, a power of attorney in Minnesota terminates at the time of the principal's death, at which point the personal representative named in the will takes over. Estate planning documents such as a will or trust are essential to ensure that the decedent’s assets are distributed according to their wishes and that their loved ones are taken care of after they have passed away. If you have any questions or concerns about estate planning in Minnesota or Wisconsin, contact us today.
We are engaged in comprehensive and effective estate planning for clients throughout Minnesota every single day. We’ve been doing it for 50 years.
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