This is the next post in my series on the need for Long Island, New York residents to engage in proper estate planning. My last article discussed the use of a living trust as part of an estate plan. A living trust can provide additional flexibility and can also be used to help one’s estate to skip the probate process. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you to determine if such an instrument is a good option for your situation. In this article I will discuss why it is typically advisable to prepare a power of attorney. If you are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
A power of attorney is an instrument which allows one to enable others to make decisions on their behalf. These decisions can involve medical issues as well as financial matters. Powers of attorney may be “limited” or general. A limited power of attorney will only allow a person authority to make decisions in regards to a clearly defined matter or issue. A general power of attorney, over one’s finances, by contrast, will grant authority over all of one’s financial affairs. Many powers of attorney are set up so that they only become active when a particular event (such as the incapacitation of the one granting authority) occurs. Many powers of attorney expire after a certain amount of time or the occurrence of a certain event. A “durable” power of attorney, however, will stay in effect until the person granting authority explicitly revokes the authority they have given to another (the person to whom authority is given is referred to as an “agent”). Whether a limited or broader and more durable power of attorney should be utilized will depend on the specifics of your situation.
There are a number of reasons why New York residents may wish to enter into a power of attorney. First, such an instrument can provide for the management of your affairs in the event that you become incapacitated or have unexpected medical issues. Such an arrangement can allow you to rest easy knowing that your affairs will be managed by someone you trust. It will also help to prevent infighting amongst your loved ones as to who “should be in charge” during a troubling time. The same is true for decisions regarding medical care, life saving treatment, etc.
One point I cannot stress enough is that you should speak with an attorney immediately when preparing an instrument which will delegate authority to another. A poorly drafted power of attorney may have the result of conveying more, or less, authority than you originally desired. It may also leave ambiguities as to the duration of the agent’s authority. By retaining experienced counsel, you increase the chances of being able to rest easy by knowing that your affairs have been handled properly.
If you are in need of a power of attorney, then contact my office today to speak with a Long Island estate planning lawyer. I am experienced in handling such matters and I look forward to being of assistance. Our office also serves Kings County residents in Brooklyn, residents of Queens, those in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, as well as people in other New York areas.