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A Power of Attorney is a frequently used and effective document in the areas of estate and elder law planning. When a Power of Attorney is signed, the principal is authorizing another individual, or agent, to act on his or her behalf.

A Power of Attorney may be drafted to permit broad powers or it may be limited to specific transactions. The designated agent may be given authority to access bank accounts, pay bills, buy, sell or mortgage real estate, speak to creditors, sign tax returns and take care of other necessary legal, business and financial matters on behalf of the principal. If a principal becomes incapacitated and unable to handle his or her own affairs, the Power of Attorney becomes an invaluable tool for the family and loved ones assisting that principal.

The Power of Attorney law was amended in New York State on September 1, 2009. Due to concerns regarding the substance and applicability of that amendment, that law has been amended. Effective September 12, 2010, several substantive and technical changes have been made to the Power of Attorney law. Powers of Attorney that were executed prior to September 12, 2010, are still effective, but any executed subsequent to that date must be made using the new subscribed forms.

Many of the new changes to the Power of Attorney law in New York State were made by the legislature to address perceived abuses in certain elder care related matters. The new laws impose new execution and disclosure requirements, including an additional rider for gifts and transactions for less than full value.

If a Power of Attorney is properly drafted under the new laws, a third party, such as a bank or investment institution, cannot refuse to honor the Power of Attorney. However, proper drafting requires strict adherence to the specific and technical requirements of the New York State law.

Please contact Christine Shiebler or Pete Roe if you have questions about the changes in the Power of Attorney law or if you would like to discuss drafting and executing a Power of Attorney.

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