Individuals living in New York are often concerned about protecting themselves in case they become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions regarding finances, medical care and living arrangements. One way of ensuring that one's rights and needs will be respected is to give a trusted friend or family member durable power of attorney.
Power of attorney is a legal concept that allows one person to act on behalf of another. There are differences in the scope of power of attorney, however, as well as its duration. In a non-durable power of attorney, it only exists as long as the grantor is able to make decisions for him or herself. If the grantor becomes incapacitated either via an accident, severe illness that causes brain damage or dementia, the power of attorney lapses.
An individual with durable power of attorney, on the other hand, can continue to act on behalf of the other even after the grantor is no longer able to make decisions. Some people will take the step of giving someone else durable power of attorney after they have been diagnosed with a serious illness or brain disorder that will eventually make it impossible for them to care for themselves.
Choosing the right person to provide with durable power of attorney is a serious step. In fact, some people will choose more than one person to exercise power of attorney as co-agents who must make decisions collectively. Individuals considering estate planning may want to talk about durable power of attorney with an experienced lawyer. The lawyer may be able to review the client's circumstances and make suggestions regarding who might be the best choice for this role.