Cona Elder Law


Money Fix — Power of Attorney Done the Right Way

September 8, 2009

by Patricia Kitchen

While the terminology may not be scintillating, a durable power of attorney comes in handy – and not just for high-income earners.  

The document allows you to authorize someone – a friend, relative or attorney – to make financial decisions in case you become incapacitated.  That would include paying bills and managing investments.

So, you won’t want to trust a shifty person with this job.

It’s all about “taking control of your situation,” says Melville estate-planning attorney Jennifer B. Cona.  People, regardless of income level, often think of such issues at transitional times of life, like marriage, the birth of a first child or retirement, she says.

Durable powers of attorney are of particular interest now, after a new state law took effect Sept. 1.  The new rule:

  • Requires the person you have chosen, or the agent, to sign the document.  Before the change, you didn’t have to let the agent know he or she had been chosen.
  • Calls for a “major gifts rider” that allows the agent to make gifts or transactions of $500 or more – this to make sure you know what the agent can do.
  • Makes the added complexities double the price from about $250 to $500.

So, why not just download a durable power of attorney form?  Michael Kresh, a certified financial planner in Islandia, says that when the time comes for an agent to use it, banks and brokerage firms are not always anxious to honor even an authorized document for fear of possible fraud.

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