A Power of Attorney is a legal document by which one person grants to another person the legal authority to act on their behalf. Powers of Attorney can grant another person very broad authority, or very limited authority. Powers of Attorney can be worded so that they can be used only for a specific transaction and a specific length of time — for example, when a person cannot be present to sign legal documents, such as at a real estate closing. Or a Power of Attorney can be worded so that the powers it grants will not become effective until a specific event occurs, such as when the person granting the Power of Attorney becomes physically disabled or mentally incompetent.
Powers of Attorney are commonly used to grant another person the authority to:
Buy or sell your real estate
Manage your property
Conduct your banking transactions
Invest, or not invest, your money
Make legal claims and conduct litigation
Attend to tax and retirement matters
Make gifts on your behalf
Under New York State law, a Power of Attorney does NOT authorize anyone to make medical or other health care decisions for you. The proper document to achieve that is called a Health Care Proxy. Click HERE for a discussion of Health Care Proxies.
Powers of Attorney can be useful, but they give another person a significant amount of power to make decisions on your behalf. Don’t be fooled by the simple-looking documents that are available on the internet. Before you sign a Power of Attorney, you should consult with an attorney to make sure that the powers you are granting to someone else are the ones you intend to grant. The attorneys at the law firm of John N. Fath, P.C. can help you decide if a Power of Attorney is worded appropriately for your situation.
Call or email us now to discuss whether a Power of Attorney will work for you.