A power of attorney is written authorization allowing one to represent or act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business or legal matters. The person that authorizes the power is the principal and the person authorized to act is considered the agent or “attorney-in-fact.” A “power of attorney form” is a legal form, but not a court form.

As of January 1, 2014, Minnesota’s power of attorney form was subject to an overhaul from the form that had been in place since 1984. There were a few major changes. First, the introduction on the new form now has a “notice to the principal” and a “notice to the attorney(s)-in-fact.” These two new notices more adequately explain the what is expected of both the principal an attorney-in-fact. To ensure that the parties are aware of the obligations under a power of attorney, the attorney-in-fact must sign and acknowledge having read the important notice to the attorney-in-fact and the principal must read an initial the important notice to principal.

Second, the new form does not allow for an attorney-in-fact to have power to make health care decisions on behalf of the principal. Powers with regard to health care may only be given through a valid health care directive under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 145C.

Lastly, there is a section on the new power-of-attorney form that discussed “self-dealing gifts.” Self-dealing gifts are gifts from the principal made to the attorney-in-fact. The principal must indicate in this section whether the attorney-in-fact is authorized to grant themselves gifts from the principal’s assets. Minnesota Statutes now indicate that an attorney-in-fact may gift themselves up to the federal annual gift tax exclusion, which his currently $14,000.