A power of attorney is one of the most commonly used legal agreements, particularly in the area of estate planning. Whether you are considering executing a power of attorney and appointing someone as your Agent, or you have been asked to act as an Agent under a power of attorney executed by someone else, you should understand the role of an Agent as well as know who can act as an Agent under a power of attorney.
Although you may not stop and think about it often, there is likely something you do every single day that requires your legal authority to accomplish. It might be something as simple as taking your child for her yearly check-up with her physician or something as complex as attending the closing on the new home you purchased. What these things have in common is that the law says only you have the legal authority to accomplish them. You can, however, give someone else your legal authority by granting that person your “power of attorney” or POA. A POA agreement is an agreement made by a Principal that gives an Agent the legal authority to act on behalf of the Principal.
The Agent under a POA can be almost anyone as long as that person is an adult and is capable of understanding the duties and responsibilities that go along with being an Agent. Just because almost anyone can be appointed as an Agent doesn’t mean just anyone should be appointed as an Agent. An Agent can have a significant amount of power under a POA, particularly if the POA is a general POA. A general POA authorizes and Agent to have almost unlimited authority over the assets of the Principal. As such, the Agent can do things such as withdraw funds from the Principal’s bank account, cash in securities, and even sell real property. One of the few things an Agent cannot do in New York with a general POA is make healthcare decisions for the Principal. To make healthcare decisions for someone a different form must be executed. The authority granted in a general POA to an Agent, however, remains extensive. For this reason, care should be taken when appointing an Agent and care should be taken when acting as an Agent once appointed.
If you have additional questions or concerns about creating or using a power of attorney in New York, contact the experienced New York estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.