A power of attorney gives an individual the right to act on your behalf. There are four types of power of attorney documents. These include General Power of Attorney, which means the document comes to a close when the principal becomes incapacitated, revokes the agent for the power of attorney, or passes away. A Durable Power of Attorney enables the principal to maintain power even once the person becomes incapacitated. A Special Power of Attorney gives the agent specific limited powers within a specific area. Lastly, a Springing Durable Power of Attorney comes into place when a specific event causes the principal to become incapacitated. A Power of Attorney allows the principal to appoint a specific agent who will act on their behalf in the case that they become incapacitated. This individual will prioritize the needs and preferences of the principal by making imperative decisions. These decisions pertain to finances, healthcare, recommending a guardian, etc. This ensures that your loved one’s wishes are met through the guarantee of financial security and effective healthcare choices when the principal becomes unable to make the decisions on their own. Oftentimes, it may be difficult to distinguish what a designated power of attorney is allowed to do and what they should not be doing based on their specific role.
What is a power of attorney able to do?
There is a broad difference between the tasks a healthcare agent and a financial agent can do simply due to the variation between their title and purpose in the Power of Attorney documentation.
A healthcare agent can decide what medical care the principal will receive based on their best interest and overall well-being. These decisions pertain to surgery, psychiatric care, hospital care, treatment options, long term care, etc. These choices rely on the financial agent and the principal prior to the final decision being processed. The healthcare agent may decide which doctors and healthcare personnel will care for the principal to ensure that he receives proper care for his specific circumstances. They are also responsible for making decisions regarding where the principal will reside regarding assisted living care, nursing home care, long-term care, or care within the home setting. They may make decisions regarding the principal’s physical crae, such as their dietary consumption and who will be in charge of bathing or dressing them in the case that they are no-longer able to do so themselves.
Financial agent can make decisions regarding access to the principal’s financial accounts and managing what type of care he can or cannot afford. They are responsible for filing taxes on behalf of the principal in the case that the individual becomes incapacitated. They may collect the principal’s debts and manage his property. They may apply for public benefits on behalf of the principal. These benefits include Medicaid, Veterans Benefits, etc.The role of the financial agent is to keep track of all the fiscal aspects of the principal’s life, especially if the principal is not in the condition to do so himself anymore.
What is a power of attorney not able to do?
The typical Power of Attorney documentation does not set specific limits in terms of what the healthcare agent or the financial agent may do on behalf of the principal. However, from a legal perspective, there are various rules regarding what these individuals are able to do. An agent is responsible for acting in the principal's best interest at all times, regardless of the situation at hand because the principal is always the top priority.
An agent is unable to change a principal’s will under any circumstance. The agent is not allowed to break their fiduciary duty to act in the principal’s best interest because this action counters their responsibilities based on their specific role. They are unable to make decisions on behalf of the principal after their death. This rule holds true unless the principal names that designated agent as the executor of their will. This rule also does not hold true if the principal passes away without a will and the agent petitions to become responsible for administering their estate. An agent cannot change or transfer power of attorney to another individual. They are able to decline their appointment at any time they feel is necessary. An agent is unable to choose who will be the one taking over their duties unless the principal listed an alternative agent in the same power of attorney document.
What is the Uniform Power of Attorney Act?
The Uniform Power of Attorney creates universal power of attorney rules across all 50 states. This act is held responsible for determining which powers are included in the document by default and which must be explicitly addressed in order to be granted to an agent. A Power of attorney becomes valid and durable the very moment that it is signed. Rules regarding compensation for the decision-makers must be clearly stated in the document prior to the execution of the payment. Third parties must not be held accountable for upholding the decisions of an agent. The power of attorney designation comes to an end upon the death of the principal. New York state has not yet enacted the rules of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, thus it is encouraged that you contact an attorney with any legal concerns regarding what a designated power of attorney can and cannot do.
For further legal information please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2394 to effectively execute your power of attorney documents, and other important estate planning documents.