Power of Attorney

Durable Power of Attorney Frequently Asked Questions

A legal document that gives another person, called the agent or attorney‐in‐fact, authority to act on the principal's behalf. Authority from a power of attorney terminates at the death of either the principal or the attorney‐in‐fact. A durable power of attorney is valid through the principal's disability.

There are three general categories of power of attorney:
  1. Unrestricted power of attorney,  called a general power of attorney.
  2. Restricted power of attorney is called a limited power of attorney (For example to sell real estate)
  3. Springing power of attorney becomes effective only upon certain conditions.

In New York the principal may authorize an agent to act in the following areas:
(A) real estate transactions;
(B) chattel and goods transactions;
(C) bond, share, and commodity  transactions;
(D) banking transactions;
(E) business operating transactions;
(F) insurance transactions;
(G) estate transactions;
(H) claims and litigation;
(I) personal and family maintenance: If you grant your agent this authority, it will allow the agent to make gifts that you customarily have made to individuals, including the agent, and charitable organizations. The total amount of all such gifts in any one calendar year cannot exceed five hundred dollars;
(J) benefits from governmental programs or civil or military service;
(K) health care billing and payment matters; records, reports, and statements;
(L) retirement benefit transactions;
(M) tax matters;
(N) all other matters;
(O) full and unqualified authority to my agent(s) to delegate any or all of the foregoing powers to any person or persons whom my agent(s) select;
The New York Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney is a serious document that includes in bold letters at the beginning:

CAUTION TO THE PRINCIPAL: Your Power of Attorney is an important document. As the “principal,” you give the person whom you choose (your “agent”) authority to spend your money and sell or dispose of your property during your lifetime without telling you. You do not lose your authority to act even though you have given your agent similar authority.

When your agent exercises this authority, he or she must act according to any instructions you have provided or, where there are no specific instructions, in your best interest. “Important Information for the Agent” at the end of this document describes your agent’s responsibilities.

Your agent can act on your behalf only after signing the Power of Attorney before a notary public.

You can request information from your agent at any time. If you are revoking a prior Power of Attorney, you should provide written notice of the revocation to your prior agent(s) and to any third parties who may have acted upon it, including the financial institutions where your accounts are located.

You can revoke or terminate your Power of Attorney at any time for any reason as long as you are of sound mind. If you are no longer of sound mind, a court can remove an agent for acting improperly.

Your agent cannot make health care decisions for you. You may execute a “Health Care Proxy” to do this.

The law governing Powers of Attorney is contained in the New York General Obligations Law, Article 5, Title 15. This law is available at a law library, or online through the New York State Senate or Assembly websites, www.senate.state.ny.us or www.assembly.state.ny.us.

If there is anything about this document that you do not understand, you should ask a lawyer of your own choosing to explain it to you.