Too many people have a negative reaction to the idea of power of attorney documents. While it is true that predatory individuals can, theoretically, use a power of attorney as a means to gain control over or manipulate someone else, in reality, these documents primarily serve the critical purpose of protecting people who experienced severe medical events.
One of the most overlooked but critical documents that should be included in a thorough estate plan is the power of attorney. In fact, the best estate plans should include two separate power of attorney documents, potentially even a third.
Westchester elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea of Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP recently addressed the importance of long-term care planning in an educational program to the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce. With millions of baby boomers coming of age, Mr. Enea urges those in or approaching their elder years to take a proactive role in planning for the future.
For several decades I have been advocating the importance of executing a General Durable Broad Power of Attorney that allows one's nominated agent(s) to do virtually all that the principal of the Power of Attorney could do. This includes executing an expanded version of the New York Statutory Gifts Rider, granting broad gifting powers to the agent(s) in the event of one's incapacity or illness.
When meeting with a client and his or her family, one of the first inquiries I make is to determine whether or not he or she has previously executed a durable general power of attorney (POA) and, if so, what provisions it contains. Since a POA is, like many legal documents, a standardized form created by statute, the natural tendency is to assume that they are all the same and contain identical provisions. This, however, is often an incorrect and dangerous assumption.