One of the vital services estate planning attorneys provides is drafting and executing documents to protect their clients from unexpected events that are a part of everyone’s life. For more than 20 years, Merlino & Gonzalez of Staten Island has helped clients navigate their futures and the futures of their loved ones by providing knowledgeable counsel and excellent legal services, such as preparing foundational documents. One of the most important of these documents is a durable power of attorney (POA). 

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A durable power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to choose someone you trust to handle your financial matters and sign legal documents on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Because none of us knows when a sudden injury, medical event, or illness might render us unable to take care of our affairs, having a durable power of attorney in place gives you peace of mind that no matter what happens your assets and your loved ones will be protected.

What kinds of things does a durable power of attorney enable your agent to do?

Once the power of attorney document is in place, the individual you have selected as your agent has the legal authority to:

  • Access your bank account, make deposits and withdrawals, and pay bills
  • Manage your property and investments
  • Collect and manage your retirement benefits
  • Sell or rent your real estate
  • File your taxes
  • Plan for your long-term care if necessary (according to your stated wishes)

Important Facts About Durable POAs

It should be noted that:

  • Although a durable power of attorney provides wide-ranging authority after incapacity, no POA entitles the agent to marry in the principal’s name or to make changes to the principal’s will. Even spouses require durable power of attorney to have  the powers granted by such a document.
  • The agent given durable POA is a fiduciary who must act in the principal’s best interests and may be held liable for misconduct.
  • In New York State, durable power of attorney does not give authority for healthcare-related decisions; for that, you need a healthcare proxy.

More Than One Kind of Power of Attorney

There are several variations in powers of attorney, as listed below, but in New York State all powers of attorney are considered durable unless otherwise stated:

  • Springing power of attorney

A springing power of attorney goes into effect as soon as it is created so that your agent is immediately empowered to take care of your business or financial matters, e.g. if you are out of the country and unavailable or suddenly become incapacitated. It can also “spring” into action if you become mentally incapable. 

  • General power of attorney

A general power of attorney authorizes your agent to act for you in all situations allowed by law — legal, financial, and business. While a general power of attorney terminates if you become incapacitated, a durable power of attorney remains in effect after incapacity.

  • Financial power of attorney

A financial POA provides special or limited power of attorney, giving the agent authority to act on your behalf only regarding certain matters you have chosen. For example, you might give your agent the authority to handle a particular sale of property.

  • Non-durable power of attorney

A non-durable power of attorney ends if you become incapacitated. It serves purposes such as enabling a financial advisor to make day-to-day investment decisions for you while you are still fully competent.

How a Durable Power of Attorney Is Terminated in New York

An agent’s durable POA authority terminates when: 

  • The principal dies
  • The principal revokes the agent’s authority
  • The agent dies, becomes incapacitated, or resigns
  • The agent’s marriage to the principal is terminated by divorce or annulment

Why You Need the Skilled Estate Planning Services of Merlino & Gonzalez

Although some people feel they can save money by filling out a cookie-cutter form from the internet to create their durable power of attorney, this job, like so many others in various disciplines (e.g. medical, electrical) requires an experienced professional. 

If you live in Staten Island, the New York area, or East Brunswick, NJ, contact us to discuss your best options. When you are dealing with the safety and security of your family, you want your rights and assets fully protected. You also want any needed forms meticulously created so that they achieve your goals and remain legally binding.

Also, there is nothing as reassuring as being advised by those in the know about what other documents you need, how best to protect your assets from excessive taxation, probate costs, and lawsuits, how to protect a loved one with special needs, and how to prepare for dealing with the high costs of nursing care if you should one day require it. Our estate planning attorneys are highly capable and will tune in to your unique needs and wishes. We will not only help you with your durable power of attorney document but will guide you through all aspects of your estate plan, making sure that there are no loose ends.

Contact Our Experienced Durable Power of Attorney Lawyers Today

Without the safety net of a durable power of attorney, in a crisis, your family may be left floundering. They may have to go to court to obtain the legal authority they require not only to take care of your affairs but to have access to funds they urgently need. As you probably know, court processes can be time-consuming and stressful. Contacting one of our efficient, caring lawyers now is the smart choice.