Power of Attorney
New York State’s power of attorney allows you to designate an agent to administer your affairs while you are still alive. It immediately goes into effect at the time you sign it, but it also requires that your agent sign the document to be able to act on your behalf. An attorney should be consulted when signing a power of attorney because it can give broad powers to control your financial life. It is important for an attorney to describe the pros and cons of giving certain powers to your agent.
These documents should be reviewed periodically with your attorney to ensure your wishes have not changed regarding the persons to be named to act on your behalf or the powers you wish to give them. The laws in these areas are subject to change so reviewing with an attorney will make sure your documents are up to date with the current law. For example, the power of attorney law changed drastically in 2009 with small changes enacted in 2010. Accordingly, if you have not reviewed your estate planning documents with your lawyer since before that time, you should make an appointment to do so.
To avoid a guardianship situation, or uncertainty and delay in making medical decisions, a health care proxy, power of attorney and living will should be executed in advance. In addition to signing a proxy, the general wishes regarding treatment decisions should be shared with the agent so they can be in the best position to step into the patient’s shoes and make a decision they would likely make for themselves.