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Powers of attorney -- better to be prepared

Your never know what curve balls life will throw in your direction. While it may be impossible to prepare for everything that may go wrong, there are some things you can do to protect yourself in the event anything happens to you. Assigning powers of attorney is a great place to start.

Setting up powers of attorney is something that New Yorkers can do while going through the general estate planning process. However, those who aren't ready to do it all can still get the powers of attorney documents in order.

What is the purpose?

The purpose of powers of attorney is to assign someone you trust to make decisions for you if you are no longer in a position to make decisions for yourself. Think about it. Do you want a family member who has very different views from you or a complete stranger calling the shots? Most likely the answer to that question is no.

Types

When it comes to powers of attorney, there are two different types that serve different purposes. The first is the health care power of attorney. When you assign someone as your health care power of attorney, you give that person the ability to make decisions regarding what kind of medical treatment you are to receive. If you have specific wishes in mind, you can document them so that your personal representative has some direction.

Next there is the financial powers of attorney. Ever think about who will handle your finances if you can't? If you assign someone as your financial power of attorney, taking care of all you money matters will be his or her job. This individual will have the ability to:

  • Pay your bills
  • Pay your taxes
  • Access all of your financial accounts
  • Sell your assets
  • Manage real estate holdings

As such information is quite sensitive, having someone you can fully trust assigned to the role is vital.

Limitations of power

Worried that having powers of attorney gives your representatives too much power? Don't be. There are limits to what they can do. Those who overstep or make poor decisions can be removed from their roles.

There is a lot about powers of attorney that can be stressful and confusing. Thankfully New York residents can turn to experienced counsel for help in making sure they have all the legal protections in place for if they are ever needed.

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