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Gov. Cuomo signs bill to simplify power of attorney forms

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2020 | Advance directives, Estate Planning

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill that will simplify New York’s power of attorney forms. The law, which will take effect in June 2021, makes power of attorney forms easier to fill out. In fact, New York residents can fill out the new power of attorney documents without needing an attorney’s help.

What to know about the new power of attorney forms

The New York State Bar Association pushed for this change because residents at nursing homes found the current power of attorney forms too complex to fill out on their own. Because of the pandemic, nursing home residents also found it difficult to get an attorney’s help filing out a power of attorney form.

Power of attorney documents give people the opportunity to have someone else manage their finances in case they become severely ill or incapacitated. Power of attorney forms also are one of the most widely used legal documents.

However, the current power of attorney forms in New York often become invalid

  • because of simple mistakes
  • if the document doesn’t use the right legal wording

The new power of attorney forms incorporate the proper wording from New York’s power of attorney statutes, making it less likely a bank or financial institution will reject them. The law also now will make it that power of attorney documents are presumed to be valid.

When a financial institution rejects a power of attorney form, a hospital patient or elderly person in a nursing center may not have the ability to have someone else pay their rent from their savings or pay utility bills on a home they plan to return to. “An incapacitated person goes without services that they desperately need,” said Scott M. Karson, president of the New York Bar Association.

Estate planning and power of attorney documents

The importance of estate planning, including having a power of attorney document in place, has become more evident during the coronavirus pandemic. Many seniors, healthcare workers and parents have created a comprehensive estate plan in case they become severely ill or die because of COVID-19.

Having a power of attorney document in place makes it easier for family members to deal with a loved one’s sudden incapacitation, to ensure their financial matters handled well of in a difficult time. Creating one can give you peace of mind that you have prepared well for the future.