A recent post on this blog discussed how in Minnesota, an attorney-in-fact cannot, as a rule, engage in so-called “self-dealing,” that is, the giving of money or other property to himself or herself. While there are some exceptions to this general rule, an attorney-in-fact who draws from the property of the person whose financial affairs he or she is managing runs the risk of facing a lawsuit or, in the most extreme cases, criminal charges
Most residents of Saint Paul, whether they have had to serve as an attorney-in-fact for a friend or relative or not, probably know that an attorney-in-fact has no right to take money from the person whom he or she is supposed to be protecting. However, not all accusations of self-dealing involve an overt case of misuse of funds.
For example, an attorney-in-fact may be a loved one who is eager to help out rather than a professional like an accountant or a member of the legal profession. In this case, for whatever reason, it is quite possible that the attorney-in-fact simply does not keep accurate or current information about how an attorney-in-fact’s money was used. This does not mean that the attorney-in-fact did anything wrong, but it can mean that the person will have to defend his or her actions in court.
Furthermore, sometimes attorneys-in-fact may have an agreement or some understanding with the principal that the attorney-in-fact is supposed to have some of the money or property as part of an inheritance. A person operating under a power of attorney may believe that it is easiest just to transfer this property without waiting for a proper probate proceeding.
Our office can help in these types of situations. We have experience handling all sorts of probate disputes, including disputes about guardianships or powers of attorney. With our knowledge and experience, we can defend the reputation and pocketbook of an attorney-in-fact who has the misfortune of being accused of self-dealing.