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Power of Attorney Lawyer in Long Island, New York

Many people assume that should they become incapacitated or unable to manage their own affairs for any other reason, their spouse or adult children can automatically step into their shoes and take over.

The truth is, for others to suddenly take over your financial affairs, they must petition a court to declare you legally incompetent, and then, they may have to report back to the court each year to account for how they’ve been handling everything.

A powerful and readily available legal tool to appoint someone to take care of your affairs when you cannot is called a power of attorney (POA).

The word “attorney” in the name may confuse some people into thinking that a POA can only be awarded to an attorney, but this is not so. Any adult person can be named your agent, or attorney-in-fact, and no law degree or any other professional qualification is necessary.

A power of attorney is an important component of estate planning. When you begin the process of planning for your future and the future of your loved ones, you should consider executing the necessary POAs to have someone handle your business and finances should you become incapacitated or some other reason renders you unable to do so yourself.

If you’re in Long Island, Bellmore, Nassau County, or Suffolk County, contact me at Lawrence M. Gordon, Attorney at Law, PC. For nearly five decades, I have devoted myself to helping others prepare for the future, thereby giving my clients and their loved ones peace of mind in knowing that every eventuality has been prepared for.

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Powers of Attorney in New York

A power of attorney gives someone else the power to make financial decisions for you. The person you name is called your agent, or attorney-in-fact, and you are the principal authorizing the POA.

You can also name more than one agent who you can empower to work jointly or separately. If they are named as joint agents, they both must agree on financial decisions and both must sign any checks they issue or any other financial documents. If they are separate agents, they can make decisions and sign checks on their own, which could result in the two people paying the same bill twice or other complications.

You can also name a successor agent to take over if the primary agent is unable to perform the duties for whatever reason.

Naming an agent or agents does not suddenly end your power to manage your affairs on your own. In fact, you can word your POA so that it becomes “springing”; that is, it takes effect only if a certain event happens or a condition is met. You can specify that the POA takes effect only if you are certified incapacitated by your doctor.

You can also limit the POA to certain tasks and certain time frames. For instance, you can create a power of attorney giving someone the authority to manage your real estate investments and stock portfolio while you are out of the country on a vacation or taking care of other business interests. You can also place a start date and an end date on the POA.

Limited, General, and Durable Powers of Attorney

Generally speaking, there are at least nine different types of powers of attorney in New York State, but the most common are durable (or statutory), general (or financial), and limited.

DURABLE OR STATUTORY POA: This type of POA remains in effect even when the principal becomes incapacitated. It authorizes the agent to conduct all financial affairs for the principal before and after incapacitation.

GENERAL OR FINANCIAL POA: This is basically the same as the durable POA, but it loses its authority once the principal becomes incapacitated.

LIMITED POA: Instead of broad financial authority, a limited POA can be directed toward only certain aspects of the principal’s financial affairs. For instance, it could empower an agent to take care of accounting and paying taxes, or it could limit the powers to just managing the principal’s investments. It could also be limited to a certain period of time, for instance, while the principal is conducting business or vacationing overseas.

As mentioned previously, any of these three types can be made to be springing – meaning they take effect only when certain events or conditions are met.

Another important point to remember is that a POA expires upon the death of the principal, and the principal has the authority to revoke any POA at any time so long as he or she is mentally capable of making rational decisions.

Healthcare Proxy

None of the above instruments allow a named agent to make medical treatment decisions for the principal if he or she is unable to do so personally; they allow the agent only to pay medical bills.

To have your medical treatment decisions voiced for you should you become incapacitated and unable to do so yourself, you need to create a healthcare proxy, also known as a healthcare or medical power of attorney. This allows your named healthcare agent to convey your wishes for medical treatment, including resuscitation, surgery, life-support, and other options, should you become incapacitated.

Power of Attorney Lawyer Serving Long Island, New York

Powers of attorney can cover a variety of considerations going beyond just financial and health concerns, including minor children, real estate, and vehicles. Creating the necessary POAs for your future and for the welfare of your family is an integral part of comprehensive estate planning. For all of your estate planning needs, contact me at Lawrence M. Gordon, Attorney at Law, PC. For nearly half a century, I have proudly served clients throughout Long Island, Bellmore, Nassau County, and Suffolk County, New York.