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  • Nicole J. Zuvich

What is a power of attorney?

Updated: Sep 27

One of the best things about being an adult is that you can make decisions for yourself. However, as we get older, our decision-making capabilities may diminish due to physical and mental health conditions. We may also just need someone on a temporary basis to act on our behalf for a specific transaction. Because of these possibilities, it is important to appoint someone to make our important decisions for us if we are ever incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so. An elder law and estate planning attorney can help you appoint the right person for the job.

Under New York, Title 15 of Article 5 of New York’s General Obligations Law, you, the principal, are allowed to grant someone else, the agent, the authority to make decisions and act on your behalf in a variety of transactions.

A POA generally can allow the agent to act on behalf of the principal when:

  1. Closing on the sale of a property

  2. Paying bills

  3. Filing taxes

  4. Making investment decisions

  5. Applying for benefits

  6. Signing contracts

Types of power of attorney

In New York, you have a few options for power of attorney. These include:

  1. Nondurable: Used for specific transactions (e.g., agent allowed to close on a property while principal is out of the country)

  2. Durable: Allows agent to act for principal, even after he or she becomes incapacitated, and will be in effect until principal dies or revokes the POA

  3. Springing: Becomes effective when a specific event occurs (e.g., principal becomes incapacitated) and will be in effect until principal’s death or revocation by court

There were various changes made to New York’s power of attorney laws and requirements in 2021, so it may be beneficial to consult an attorney for assistance in creating a legally binding POA.

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