Under Minnesota law, an agent given power of attorney (POA) authority cannot change the beneficiary designations made by the power grantor.
Minnesota’s statutory so-called “short form” power of attorney document may authorize the agent to act regarding beneficiary transactions, but there is no specific authority to select or modify beneficiary designations made by the power grantor. As an example of a transaction, the power grantor’s agent (officially called an attorney-in-fact) may accept or disclaim assets for which the power grantor was named as a beneficiary of someone else’s assets.
The “no touch” rule applies to hoped-for changes in beneficiary designations even if the attorney-in-fact does not stand to benefit from the proposed change.
The inability to make changes in beneficiary designations is one more reason why it is important to periodically review one’s estate plan. It’s important to make changes to one’s Will and other estate plan documents before advancing age triggers a significant decline in mental capacity, or death occurs.
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