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Important questions to ask about a power of attorney

A power of attorney is something that every New York resident should incorporate into his or her estate plan. Indeed, when considering trustees, executors and fiduciaries, power of attorney documentation is vital and perhaps the bare minimum component of your estate plan.

At Weinstein & Randisi, we have helped countless New York residents prepare their power of attorney documents with success. In doing so, we have found that many estate planners come to us with the same questions about powers of attorney -- especially with regard to the different types available and what kind of powers of attorney they should have on file. For this reason, we would like to answer some of the more common questions now.

When it comes to powers of attorney questions, a lot of people ask for advice on who is the best person to control their financial affairs. When deciding who will control your finances, it is important to remember that the individuals to whom you provide this power will be able to make any and all of your financial decisions, and you will be the person that will benefit from (or has to suffer the consequences) of your power of attorney's decisions. For that reason, choose this individual with care. You want someone who is experienced enough with finances, responsible enough with life decisions, has sufficient worldly experience and has a decision-making style that closely mirrors your own.

Another important question is whether the power of attorney should go into effect now, upon signing the document, or not until you are actually incapacitated. This distinction needs to be carefully laid out in the document and an estate planning attorney can advise you on what is most appropriate for your situation. A final question that is important is execution date of any power of attorney you already have on file. In 2010, changes to New York law affected powers of attorney, and if you currently have one in place that was signed before that date, you may want to consider having it updated.

Most estate planners have a lot more questions than these. At Weinstein & Randisi, we have attorneys available to assist you with any estate planning questions you and your loved ones may have.

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