Power of Attorney: Using your Power Wisely
Updated: Sep 15
Around 11:30 in the morning your work phone lights up while an electronic tone vibrates the desk. The caller ID box reads “Danbury Hospital.” In the next minute you hear the words, “mom, admitted, heart attack, stable, stent,” spoken by the hospitalist on duty. You are caught off guard, but getting to the hospital becomes the day’s priority. After you arrive at the hospital, you find your mother’s room and judge how this ordeal has impacted her. If mom is awake and speaking in a relatively normal tone you temporarily relax, but you quickly realize that you will have work to do. Almost everyone will experience a version of this in their lifetimes. A loved one’s health crisis may be brought under control, but the uncertainty of dealing with the day-to-day maintenance of another person’s life can be overwhelming.
While your mom is recuperating in the hospital the fixtures and trappings of her life are pressing forward. Car lease payments have to be made along with housing expenses, tax payments, cell phone payments, cable, and insurance. Luckily, your mom executed a Power of Attorney which allows you to gain authority over your mom’s finances to pay bills, access her records and transfer funds. One less thing to worry about.
Without a Power of Attorney in place your mom would have to continue all of her administrative and financial tasks while recovering. Usually, that would mean you try to locate statements and bills in mom’s home, go to the hospital and sit with your mom and the checkbook . Without a Power of Attorney, every financial decision or change of service would require you to make endless phone calls and wait for a verbal authorization to be taken from your mom. Amazingly, this is the best case scenario.
If a loved one is compromised or seriously ill then just obtaining a signature can be next to impossible.. A Power of Attorney cuts through all of that waste. If you have been appointed as an Agent under a New York Power of Attorney you can handle real estate transactions, banking, business, insurance, claims, benefits, tax matters and any other similar transaction. If the executed Power of Attorney includes the Statutory Gift Rider then you may be able to transfer funds or create trusts to help your loved one apply for Medicaid or other special benefits. Seriously disabled individuals who lack a Power of Attorney often have family members petition for Article 81 Guardianships which can be expensive and complex.
Having a Power of Attorney is like learning how to fall correctly. Everyone falls. Setting up a soft landing is preferable to an awkward tumble. When the crisis happens it is nice to know that one set of papers can simplify two lives, your mom’s and yours.