With baby boomers entering retirement age, more adult children are undertaking the role of caregiver to meet their loved ones’ needs. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, as many as 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months. Caregivers are often called upon to assist with a loved one’s estate plan to ensure that his or her wishes for assets and health are met. An important aspect of estate planning is power of attorney, a document that authorizes someone to make and implement financial and other important decisions.
A power of attorney grants to an individual, or “agent,” to the legal authority to make decisions concerning finances, assets and other personal matters for another person, or “principal,” when he or she is unable to do so. Typically, a principal will appoint a trusted family member, domestic partner or close friend to this role. An individual may designate a specific power of attorney to give authority over one particular matter, or general power of attorney, who would be able to oversee his or her finances and personal matters. In New York, a separate document, called a Health Care Proxy, is the proper way to delegate another person to make health-related decisions for the principal.
An individual may grant authority over decisions such as finances, monetary gifts, recommendations for guardianship, and, via a Health Care Proxy, health care decisions including the ability to consent to giving, withholding or stopping medical services, treatments or diagnostic procedures. A power of attorney can take effect immediately, should the individual become mentally incapacitated or leave the country for an extended period of time, and is unable to make these important decisions. It can also be made to take effect at a later date, such as at a time in the future when the principal becomes incapacitated mentally or physically.
A durable power of attorney stops a court from stepping in, taking control of the elder’s finances and appointing someone to make decisions for an individual, should he or she be unable to do so. It is important to consult an estate planning attorney well-versed in applicable laws and regulations that will ensure that your loved one’s affairs are in order and their wishes are carried out when he or she is no longer able to do so.
The attorneys at Blodnick, Fazio & Associates PC handle all aspects of estate planning, including assisting clients with the appointment of a power of attorney and health care proxy. From the simple to the complex, the attorneys at Blodnick, Fazio & Associates are skilled in all aspects of estate planning and are dedicated to representing its clients with diligence and compassion during this emotional time. Contact the experienced New York estate planning attorneys at Blodnick, Fazio & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation by calling (516) 280-7105 or visiting www.bfandapc.com.