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Posted Jul 16 2009 1:52pm
images5756.jpg MORE SAFEGUARDS BUT MORE COSTLY AND COMPLEX By Jennifer Cona*, Esq.

Under the revised power of attorney (POA) law that takes effect in New York on September 1st, baby boomers and seniors will have greater protection, but they will also pay more for a more complicated document.

With an increasing number of people becoming incapacitated due to Alzheimer's, strokes and other disabilities, the need for and use of powers of attorney is on the rise. An agent, usually a trusted family member, is appointed by the principal to handle their financial affairs if they are unable to do so themselves. The agent is granted the power to take care of all finances including banking, investments, real estate transactions, paying bills and making monetary gifts.

Over the past few years, several cases have been cited where family members used the person’s funds to benefit themselves and not the principal he/she represents. This prompted the NYS government to closely scrutinize the existing POA law and make major changes to it emphasizing the obligations of the agent.

Some of the key changes to the POA in New York State include:

- Detailed instructions and defined responsibilities for the agent

− Signature by the agent before a notary public

− Statutory Major Gift Rider for asset transfers and gifting over $ 500 that specifies amounts, recipients and types of assets to gift

− Ability of the principal to appoint a monitor to oversee the agent

_ Special court proceeding to challenge the validity of a POA, remove an agent, compel a bank to accept the POA and more

As the new POA is more complicated, contains additional provisions and riders, and will require greater review and explanation with an attorney, individuals will incur higher attorney fees for the document. However, until September 1, people have the opportunity to obtain a POA under the existing law, which is simpler and costs less money to execute.

By having an elder law attorney draft the instrument, you can also include specific powers to carry out your wishes regarding estate, asset protection and Medicaid eligibility goals.

Ms. Cona advises that those who already have a POA do not need to execute a new one. However, anyone who is not clear about the powers they have delegated or would like to insure that they are in compliance with the law should consult with an attorney.

On September 30th, GDGC will sponsor a free seminar in their Melville, LI office on the new power of attorney laws and what seniors and their families need to know. Participants will also have the opportunity to meet with a GDGC elder law attorney to review their POA. Reservations can be made by calling: 631-390-5000.

*Jennifer Cona, Esq., is managing partner of Genser Dubow Genser Dubow & Cona, recognized as a leading elder law and estate planning firm on Long Island. Ms. Cona has been featured in many publications and appeared as a guest on television and radio programs. For more information on GDGC and elder law/estate planning, visit their website at:
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