If someone has appointed you as an Agent under a power of attorney, or POA, you may have a number of questions about the manner in which you use your appointment, and the authority or power that was granted to you by the Principal (person who created the POA). These questions are all perfectly natural and common. One question Agents often ask is “Does a power of attorney permit me to make gifts to myself?”
Though this may, at first, seem like an odd question to ask, it is actually perfectly natural and relevant if the Agent is also a family member or loved one of the Principal. Fortunately, the laws in the State of New York relating to powers of attorney address this very question.
First, it helps to understand what a power of attorney is and what an Agent does. A POA is a legal agreement that allows a Principal to grant an Agent the right to act on behalf of the Principal in legal matters. The overall extent of the power granted to an Agent depends first on whether the Principal created a general or special POA. A general power of attorney grants an Agent almost unlimited power to act on behalf of the Principal. A special POA, on the other hand, only grants the Agent those powers specifically enumerated in the POA agreement. For example, the power to represent the Principal at the closing on the sale of a vacation home might be the only power granted in a special POA.
The State of New York wants a Principal to be very clear when granting an Agent powers. Toward that end, the state has created POA forms that allow a Principal to specify what powers are granted to an Agent. The “Power of Attorney New York Statutory Short Form” requires the Principal to clearly mark which of the listed powers are to be extended to the designated Agent. Gift giving powers are include in the list under “personal and family maintenance; however, an Agent may only make gifts totaling (cumulatively) up to $500 per year. The power to gift assets does include gifting to the Agent himself if that power is included by the Principal. To grant an Agent the power to make gifts to anyone in excess of the statutory $500 limit the Principal must execute a separate “Gifts Rider.” On the rider the Principal must then mark the section allowing the Agent to make gifts to himself/herself and include any limits on the type of value of the gifts that can be made.
If you have additional questions or concerns about powers of attorney or estate planning in general, contact the experienced New York estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Saul Kobrick, P.C. by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.