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What can an agent in a power of attorney do? That entirely depends on the authority granted in the actual document. In New York, you can use a statutory form of Power of Attorney to allow your agent to handle your legal, business, and financial matters. These powers can be limited to a single transaction (such as the sale of a house), or very broad in nature.
Consider tailoring your agent’s authority to your specific needs by analyzing the following commonly used powers:
- Sell real or personal property
- Pay bills
- Obtain a loan
- Transfer, withdraw or deposit funds
- Commence or defend a lawsuit
- Apply for government benefits, including Medicaid
- File tax returns
- Make gifts limited to a specific dollar amount on an annual basis or unlimited gifting
- Employ professionals such as attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors
- Provide pet care
- Open, read, re-direct or respond to U.S. mail
- Engage in insurance transactions
- Disclaim an inheritance
- Create a living trust
- Enter or maintain a safe deposit box
- Enter into contracts (personal and/or business)
- Establish a partnership, corporation, limited liability company
- Enter into a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement
- Authority to access digital assets and recover usernames and passwords on digital devices
- Designate beneficiaries on non-qualified assets and qualified retirement plans
Your agent cannot sign a Last Will & Testament on your behalf or render medical decisions for you. A Last Will & Testament can only be executed by the Testator (the person making the Will). You can designate an agent to make medical decisions for you under a separate legal document called a Health Care Proxy.
For those interested in asset protection and long-term planning, a Power of Attorney with broad agent powers, including gifting, is strongly recommended. However, prior to signing a Power of Attorney, you should always discuss your agent’s specific powers with your attorney.
To speak with one of our experienced elder law and estate planning attorneys, please contact our office today.