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How a Financial Power of Attorney Works in Massachusetts


A financial power of attorney (FPOA) can empower you to designate someone else to handle your financial matters. This arrangement could ensure that financial obligations are met and goals pursued, even when the principal is unable to manage their affairs due to illness or disability. Understanding how an FPOA works is essential for effective financial planning. Here’s how it works in Massachusetts.

A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan for your long-term goals and needs.

What Is a Financial Power of Attorney?

An FPOA is a legal document that authorizes a designated individual, known as the agent or attorney-in-fact, to manage financial affairs on behalf of another person, referred to as the principal. This legal arrangement is specifically useful when the principal is unable to oversee their financial matters due to illness, disability or absence.

An FPOA includes several key elements:

  • Identification of the principal and the attorney-in-fact.
  • A detailed list of the powers granted to the attorney-in-fact, which can range from managing bank transactions to handling real estate dealings and making investment decisions.
  • Specification of the nature of the powers—whether they are durable or springing. Springing powers activate only under predefined conditions, such as the principal’s medical incapacitation, adding a layer of security and specificity to the arrangement.

When You May Need a Financial Power of Attorney

You may need someone to manage your finances while you are away for work or travel, or if you have a large estate and need someone to manage your finances. In those cases, the presence of an FPOA could help you meet financial obligations, avoid legal actions and prevent financial mismanagement.

How to Create a Financial Power of Attorney in Massachusetts

Creating an FPOA in Massachusetts involves several steps to ensure that it is legally binding and properly executed. Here are seven general steps to keep in mind:

  1. Choose your agent: Select a trustworthy person to act as your agent. This person will have significant control over your financial matters, so it’s crucial that you choose someone responsible and reliable.
  2. Decide on the powers to grant: Determine the specific powers you want to grant your agent. This can be broad (general POA) or limited to specific tasks (limited POA).
  3. Obtain the proper form: In Massachusetts, there is no standardized form mandated by the state, but you can find templates online or have one drafted by an attorney. Ensure the form complies with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 190B, Article V, Section 5-501.
  4. Complete the form: Fill out the form with the necessary details that include your name, address, your agent details, specific powers you’re granting and any limitations or special instructions.
  5. Sign the document in front of a notary: Massachusetts law requires the principal to sign the POA document in the presence of a notary public. The notary will verify your identity and witness your signature.
  6. Have the agent sign the document: Some POA forms may require the agent to sign an acknowledgment. This can also be done in the presence of a notary, although it’s not always mandatory.
  7. Provide copies to relevant parties: Give copies of the POA to your agent, financial institutions and any other relevant parties. Keep the original in a safe place.

While it is possible to create a Financial POA on your own, consulting with an attorney can ensure that the document meets all legal requirements and fully protects your interests.

Other Types of Powers of Attorney in Massachusetts

A senior couple researching how a financial power of attorney works in Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts, the law recognizes several types of powers of attorney, each tailored to different needs and circumstances. The most common include the durable power of attorney, which remains effective even if the principal becomes incapacitated. Alternatively, the springing power of attorney activates only under specific conditions such as the incapacity of the principal, ensuring that the agent’s power is contingent upon certain events.

Additionally, you may also consider a healthcare power of attorney, which enables an agent to make medical decisions for the principal if they are unable to do so themselves. For example, during a medical emergency when the principal cannot communicate their wishes, this POA ensures that their predetermined healthcare preferences are respected. Lastly, the limited power of attorney grants authority to the agent for specific tasks within a limited timeframe. This can be ideal for situations like overseeing a financial transaction when the principal cannot be present.

When a Financial Power of Attorney Ends in Massachusetts

The termination of a POA in Massachusetts can occur under various conditions:

  • Death of the principal: This immediately nullifies the POA as the agent can no longer act on behalf of a deceased individual.
  • Revocation by the principal: If the principal is mentally competent, they can decide to revoke the POA. This revocation should be explicit and ideally in writing to avoid any ambiguity.
  • Expiration of the POA: The POA terminates upon the expiration of the term specified within it unless it is a durable type designed to endure beyond such terms.
  • Incapacity of the agent: If the POA is non-durable, the incapacity of the agent also terminates the agreement, as the agent must be capable of performing the duties assigned.

Upon the termination of a POA, several steps must be followed to comply with Massachusetts law. You must also notify all relevant parties impacted by the POA, such as financial institutions and healthcare providers.

Bottom Line

A senior couple reviewing their financial power of attorney in Massachusetts.

An FPOA can be an indispensable legal tool in Massachusetts, providing individuals with the means to ensure that their financial and legal affairs are managed according to their wishes, especially during times of incapacity. This strategy can also help you safeguard against potential legal complications and also provide peace of mind, knowing that your affairs will be handled competently and according to your directives.

Tips for Financial Planning

  • A financial advisor can help you with long-term financial planning, including retirement planning or building wealth for the next generation. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Before you choose your financial advisor, make sure you know how to select the right financial advisor for your unique situation.

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