Powers of attorney are important elements of almost every estate plan in the State of New York. With a properly drafted power of attorney you can give others the right to represent you and your interests, and make decisions for you, when you can no longer make them yourself.
When a person makes a power of attorney in Rochester New York, that person will have to select someone to act as an agent. If you are ever asked to serve as an agent, there are several issues you will have to understand. Choosing to be an agent is a decision you should never make lightly because it imposes specific legal responsibilities on you. If someone has asked you to serve as an agent, here are several issues you should understand.
Issue 1. You must understand the extent of your authority.
As an agent, you can only represent the person making the power of attorney, called the principal, to the extent authorized by the power of attorney document. Every power of attorney document is different, and will state in detail what you can and cannot do. Some powers of attorney are specific, while others are very broad. Even if you have known the principal for years and trust him or her completely, you will always want to make sure you know what the power of attorney says. As the agent, it is your responsibility to do what is in the principal’s best interests. Knowing the extent of your powers is essential if you hope to perform your duties properly.
Issue 2. Know what you have to do to resign.
Being an agent under a power of attorney is sometimes a difficult task. People who accept the position occasionally find out that they are unsuited to it. Others find that they do not have enough time to properly serve the principal’s interests.
If you decide that you must resign your authority as agent under power of attorney, you must do so in a way that does not harm the principal. Most power of attorney documents state what an agent must do if he or she chooses to resign. For example, the power of attorney will probably name a successor or replacement agent who will take your position if you can no longer serve. The document will typically require you to notify the replacement agent, and the principal, of your resignation.
Issue 3. Understand the compensation.
Some, but not all, powers of attorney allow agents to receive compensation for their efforts. You should always keep a diary or log of the work you perform as an agent whether or not you are being compensated. If the power of attorney document calls for compensation, you should be clear about what you need to do to receive payment and cover any costs or expenses associated with the fulfillment of your duties.
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