While the star performer in your Estate Plan is usually the Trust Agreement or the Will that you make in order pass on your hard earned wealth, there is a document we include in all of our Estate Planning packages that, as a supporting player, is incredibly important when it comes to preparing for your possible incapacity.
I am talking about the New York Short Form Power of Attorney, with accompanying Statutory Gift Rider.
What exactly are these documents? They are two legal forms, used in conjunction with one another, created and regulated by New York State law, and they allow you to name someone as your financial agent. These forms give your financial agent the power to act on your behalf with regards to your finances. What that means is, the forms give your agent the legal authority to access your bank accounts, retirement accounts, and even to sell your real estate, as if they were you.
As you can see, these documents have the potential to be incredibly dangerous. They allow someone (or multiple people) to have full access to your finances, giving them the chance to, potentially, take all of your assets for themselves and leave you with nothing.
As terrifying a prospect as that is, we cannot stress enough how important these forms are. The power of attorney, with the accompanying statutory gift rider, allows you to name someone (or multiple people) you trust to act on your behalf with regards to your finances, which helps ensure that someone will be able to manage your property if you ever become incapacitated.
A number of our previous blogs discuss the topic of Adult Guardianship and how, if you or your loved one do not prepare for the event of possible incapacity, your loved ones will likely need to seek court intervention in order to get the authority to help you handle your finances and daily activities. With the power of attorney, and accompanying statutory gift rider, we can lower the likelihood that court intervention will become necessary by pre-choosing who can handle your finances on your behalf. As you saw in our previous blogs, Guardianship, though a useful tool for helping incapacitated loved ones, is a stressful process - emotionally and financially - and putting a plan in place to help avoid the need for a Guardianship proceeding is as simple as sitting down with an Elder Law Attorney and creating a well-tailored plan, including a power of attorney and statutory gift rider, while you still can.
The Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorneys here, at Cohen & Cohen Law Group, P.C., are ready and able to work with you to create the unique plan that you need to help ensure that you and your assets will be financially secure, even when you can no longer manage your finances yourself. Call our office today at (718) 275-7779 and schedule an appointment to meet with us to make sure your future is more secure as you continue to age.