Creating a power of attorney (POA) is a significant undertaking with long-term implications for you and your loved ones. Preparing a sound POA document is essential, as mistakes could jeopardize your finances, health, and legal rights. If you’re making this pivotal decision, you need and deserve professional guidance from an experienced estate planning attorney.
That’s where Amoruso & Amoruso LLP comes in. With nearly six decades of combined legal experience, Michael J. Amoruso and Sreelekha Chakrabarty Amoruso are well-equipped to guide you through the complex process of establishing a power of attorney. We’ll ensure your document is tailored to your needs and valid under New York or Connecticut law.
Creating a power of attorney is one piece of our signature comprehensive estate planning service. With this innovative approach, we bring key elements of estate planning, elder law, long-term care, and other areas into a strategy tailored to your individual needs.
Don’t leave your future to chance. Reach out to Amoruso & Amoruso LLP today to discuss your power of attorney needs with us in detail.
What Is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows one individual, the “principal,” to grant authority to another individual, the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact,” to act on the principal’s behalf in legal or financial matters.
The delegation of power in a POA can be as broad or limited as the principal chooses, but it really depends on the planning involved. For example, a POA could grant an agent the power to manage all of the principal’s financial affairs and even handle future estate planning and Medicaid planning. Alternatively, it could specify power for certain tasks, such as selling a piece of property or paying bills. Either way, given the vast authority that a POA can grant, it is imperative that you talk through your selection of agents thoroughly with your attorney so that you know the person selected will act in your best interests and not their own.
For a power of attorney to be valid in New York, the principal and the agent must sign the document before two witnesses and a notary public. Connecticut requires a signature before a notary public. The POA might also need to be recorded or registered with a specific agency, depending on its purpose. For instance, a POA for real estate transactions might need to be on file with the county clerk’s office.
It is essential to effective estate planning to understand which type of POA suits your needs and the legal requirements for making it valid. A seasoned attorney can provide valuable guidance and peace of mind in this area.
What Kinds of Legal Authority Can Be Granted Through a Power of Attorney?
The scope of legal authority you can grant through a power of attorney is highly customizable and can be as broad or specific as you wish. The following are common types of authority you may grant with a POA:
- Financial Management Authority – The principal can empower the agent to manage bank accounts, pay bills, invest money, or even run a business on behalf of the principal.
- Property Transaction Authority – An agent may receive authority to buy, sell, or manage real estate for the principal. This could include executing leases or selling property.
- Legal Authority – With this type of authority, the agent may represent the principal in court proceedings, execute documents, and undertake other legal tasks as specified.
- Personal Authority – A principal can authorize an agent to do things like enroll the principal’s children in school or even make decisions on matters affecting their personal appearance.
- Estate Planning and Medicaid Planning – A principal can grant broad authority for the agent to perform estate planning and Medicaid planning to preserve assets from taxes and/or the high costs of nursing home or home care.
Common Types of Power of Attorney
Understanding the different types of power of attorney can help you decide which is best suited to your needs. Here’s a look at some of the most common types:
- General Power of Attorney – This type gives the agent broad powers to manage various aspects of the principal’s life, such as financial matters and property management. It ceases to be effective if the principal becomes incapacitated unless it includes a “durable” provision.
- Special or Limited Power of Attorney – This type is tailored for a specific task, like selling a piece of property or for a predetermined period. The POA automatically becomes null and void once the task is completed or the period expires.
- General Durable Power of Attorney – This POA remains effective even if the principal becomes incapacitated, ensuring continuous management of their affairs. Durability provisions can apply to both general and special powers of attorney.
- General Durable Statutory Power of Attorney – In New York and Connecticut, a statutory power of attorney is one that “substantially conforms” with the State statute. This type of POA Offers significant protection to ensure that your POA will be honored by financial institutions.