Power of Attorney Lawyers in Tonawanda, New York
The pandemic brought about many changes to life as we used to know it in the United States, around the world, and certainly here in New York. Remote work, mask requirements, and vaccination mandates have all contributed to altering both the economic and daily-life landscape for all of us.
The pandemic also brought about changes to the laws governing powers of attorney (POAs) in New York State, effective June 13, 2021. One major change was to make it easier for the suddenly infirm to execute a power of attorney.
The language used in a power of attorney in New York is extremely important. If certain wording is not used correctly, the POA can be judged invalid. The new law also clarifies wording.
A power of attorney, of course, is a legal document assigning to someone else the authority to conduct your business and manage your affairs. POAs are often used to have a personally chosen agent in place should you become incapacitated and cannot conduct your own affairs. POAs are thus essential tools in proper estate planning.
For all your estate planning needs, including the crafting of targeted powers of attorney, contact the Law Office Of Corey J. Rossi, PLLC if you’re in or around Tonawanda, Amherst, and Wheatfield, New York, as well as the counties of Erie and Niagara. We can meet with you, discuss your personal situation, and help you prepare the legal documents you need for the security and peace of mind of you and your loved ones.
What Is a Power of Attorney?
As briefly stated above, a power of attorney lets you name someone to act in your stead. It could be a temporary granting of power when, for instance, you may be facing deployment overseas and you need someone to pay your bills and manage your finances. It could also be a long-term POA with an eye to the future should something happen to you.
The New York State Bar Association describes a POA in this way:
“As the ‘principal,’ you give the person whom you choose (your ‘agent’) authority to spend your money and sell or dispose of your property during your lifetime without telling you. You do not lose your authority to act even though you have given your agent similar authority. When your agent exercises this authority, he or she must act according to any instructions you have provided or, where there are no specific instructions, in your best interest.”
Types of Powers of Attorney
There are basically four types of powers of attorney:
LIMITED: A limited POA focuses on perhaps just one action to be taken. For instance, you may grant someone a limited power of attorney to sign a deed or other document when you are out of town. When that is done, the POA is exhausted.
GENERAL: A general POA grants all powers that you have to your agent, or attorney-in-fact. The agent can manage your assets, your investments, and bank accounts, pay bills, sign documents, and conduct financial transactions on your behalf. A general power of attorney can be rescinded at any time and expires upon your incapacitation or death.
DURABLE: A durable power of attorney can be limited or general, but it remains in effect even after you become incapacitated. A durable POA prevents a court from being asked to appoint a conservator or guardian to act on your behalf if you do become incapacitated. It ends upon your death, and you can revoke it at any time so long as you are of sound mind.
SPRINGING: A springing power of attorney takes effect only when a certain event takes place, generally your own incapacitation. Before you’re incapacitated, the POA bestows no authority on anyone else. It’s important to clearly define the springing event, for instance, your incapacitation, so that there are no legal challenges or issues if someone invokes the POA’s authority.
Recent Changes to POAs in New York
The pandemic was a catalyst for long-sought changes to the legal requirements for powers of attorney in New York State. As mentioned briefly above, the infirmed can now execute a power of attorney by having someone sign in their stead. This allows those who can make the decision to create a POA, but who cannot personally sign the document because of an infirmity, to direct someone else to sign for them.
In addition, prior statutes required that the wording in a power of attorney conform exactly to the wording in the law. The new law changes the standard to “substantially conforms,” which allows for spelling and grammatical errors and minor wording changes. The new law also requires a POA to be witnessed by two persons who are not named as agents in the document.
Who Needs a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a useful tool in estate planning in anticipation of any incapacitation or other event that prevents you from conducting your own financial affairs. It can spare your family and loved ones the hardship and expense of a court hearing to appoint a guardian or conservator.
A power of attorney is also useful when certain events or circumstances prevent you from carrying out your financial and other affairs, for instance, when you may have gone overseas and need help to manage everything back at home.
Power of Attorney Lawyers
in Tonawanda, New York
As you can see, a power of attorney needs to be carefully drafted to conform to New York laws. It's best to consult with an experienced attorney for the drafting and execution of any power of attorney. If you’re in or around Tonawanda, Amherst, and Wheatfield, New York, as well as the counties of Erie and Niagara, you can rely on the estate planning experience of the attorneys at the Law Office Of Corey J. Rossi, PLLC. We have the knowledge and resources to create the legal instruments to provide for any eventuality in your life.