On December 15, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed changes to the Power of Attorney law. The new law takes effect 180 days from the date of signing (June 13, 2021). The changes are intended to simplify the power of attorney form (combining the power of attorney and statutory gifts rider) making it user friendly by changing the requirement of using the exact wording in the statute to substantial compliance with the wording.
The new law discourages financial institutions from improperly refusing to accept the form by allowing the imposition of penalties and attorney’s fees. The new law also creates a presumption in favor of the validity of a power of attorney form.
The new law benefits people with disabilities in a couple of ways. It allows another person to sign the Power of Attorney at the direction of the principal. This is significant for individuals with mental capacity but who have physical disabilities and are unable to sign for themselves. Previously, they would have had to go through a costly guardianship proceeding to appoint a Guardian if they could not physically sign for themselves.
The new law also allows an agent to be authorized to access medical records and to make decisions regarding payment for the health care provided to the principal. Health care providers and health plans must provide the agent with the information needed to determine the legitimacy and accuracy of charges for health-related expenses and benefits.
The power of attorney, together with a health care proxy with your advanced directives is an important part of your estate plan and is a vital tool in assuring you are protected in the event of injury, illness, or unexpected incapacity.