New York Has a New Power of Attorney Form
A durable power of attorney form enables someone to take the reins of your life and manage your affairs, while you are alive. It’s essential if you lose mental capacity, and can avoid the need for a court appointed guardian. You are the “principal” appointing an agent.
Your agent’s authority ends at your death, when an executor, trustee or estate administrator would take over. New York’s new form took effect on June 13, 2021. We’ve had two weeks of office signings and this new form is much easier.
Although the new form is simplified, it is still a complicated matter and is best explained to you by a lawyer. The form now requires two witnesses who can attest that the principal has the mental capacity to sign it. In the past, a principal could sign before a notary, and there was rampant fraud in obtaining and using these forms, often by unscrupulous family members.
The form has been streamlined and sections which have no application to a particular individual can be eliminated. Further, the “statutory gift rider”, an add-on to the main form which was confusing to many, has been eliminated. You can authorize your agent to make gifts in a less confusing way. The new form also authorizes your agent to make certain health care decisions concerning nursing home admission.
A power of attorney is often more important than a will, as we get older. Why? Even without a will, you can leave property to others via joint ownership or a beneficiary designation. However, if you don’t have a power of attorney in place, and you lose mental capacity, a court proceeding is needed to appoint someone to manage your affairs. This can be costly and you won’t control who is appointed as your agent.