New York’s New Simplified Power of Attorney: How it Can Work for You

A new law taking effect in June 2021 makes it easier for New Yorkers to prepare and execute powers of attorney to delegate the handling of financial and legal matters to an agent. The law will make it easier for people to use POAs for multiple purposes, such as estate planning.

Under prior law, the wording of a POA would have to mirror precisely the wording of a statutory form or risk being invalidated, even for minor differences. The new law provides that a POA is effective as long as it substantially conforms to the statutory form.

Among other welcome changes, the new law does the following:

  • Removes the need for a “statutory gifts rider” to be separately executed and witnessed in order to empower an agent to make large gifts of the principal’s property or to create estate planning documents. Instead, the agent’s gifting and estate planning power can be set forth in the “modifications” section of the POA.
  • Makes it easier for a physically disabled individual to execute a power of attorney. A third person may sign the POA in the presence and at the direction of the principal, though that person cannot be appointed as the agent.
  • Provides that a properly signed and notarized POA may be relied upon in good faith as long as the person so relying has no knowledge that the POA is void or has been terminated or that the agent has exceeded or improperly executed his or her power.

All of these changes make it easier to effectively appoint someone to manage your financial affairs and health care should you become incapacitated. With a valid POA in place, you can be sure your bills will be paid, your insurance will stay in force and you will receive the medical attention and living assistance you need.

In addition, a durable power of attorney can be created, which expressly remains in effect even if you become mentally disabled or fall into a vegetative state. Depending upon your situation and estate planning needs, your POA can be made broad enough to allow distribution of your assets to selected beneficiaries, either outright or in trust.

However, despite the increased versatility the new law gives to POAs, each financial institution has its own best practices for recognizing and accepting them. As such, a POA must be carefully prepared so that its purpose and scope are clear and so that it leaves no ambiguities that may cause it to be rejected.

At the Law Office of Maurice J. Verrillo, P.C., we have over 30 years of experience in successfully helping people in estate planning matters, including creation of effective powers of attorney. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 585-563-1134or contact us online.


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