Power of Attorney Facts
Sometimes, it can be necessary to give someone authority to handle certain legal matters for you, such as financial affairs. If you are considering signing a power of attorney form in New York, you may be wondering what the benefits are and how you can go about doing this. Here are some power of attorney facts you should know.
Power of Attorney Facts | What is it?
Signing a power of attorney gives someone authority to handle your affairs, and a standard power of attorney includes specific lists of powers from which to choose. You could think of it as making it easier for people to help you. For instance, an individual with power of attorney over your bank account will be authorized to pay bills and write checks, but not to sell your house – unless you give them that power. Today, most spouses give powers of attorney to each other. You can always revoke power of attorney, unless you are mentally incompetent. In that case you can neither sign nor revoke power of attorney.
Power of Attorney Facts | Tips for Choosing an Agent
Choosing a power of attorney agent is very similar to determining who will be your executor. Choose someone who takes care of business, handles bills, and manages your accounts. When choosing an executor, don’t necessarily pick the eldest son or the youngest son, but choose someone who has the time and ability to do the job. Someone who is very busy is probably the best person, based on the old adage, “If you need something done, give it to a busy person.” Distance is not an issue. If a person is good at what they do, they’ll figure it out.
Power of Attorney Facts | Durability
Most power of attorneys are “durable.” All this means is that the authority continues even if the signer is incapacitated. (Power of attorney always ceases upon death, however.) In some cases, you might want to use a non-durable or single-purpose power of attorney. For example, if a husband and wife are buying a house together but the husband is going out of town, he will want to give the wife a single-purpose power of attorney.
Power of Attorney Facts | Legal Liability
A person granted power of attorney owes a duty of care to the grantor. This broadly means that the person with the power of attorney must do his or her best to act in the grantor’s best interests. This doesn’t mean that a person will be liable for poor investments or the sale of a house at a price slightly lower than its full market potential. He or she will be liable for negligence or misconduct. Theoretically, the power of attorney holder can be found liable for civil damages if he or she abuses its power, and some have gone to jail for misusing a power of attorney to enrich themselves.
If you have any questions about power of attorney, please contact our experienced Buffalo estate attorney today for a free consultation.