Power of Attorney in New York: Guide and Requirements

New York allows different kinds of powers of attorney.
Roberta Pescow
By Roberta Pescow 
Published
Edited by Tina Orem

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A power of attorney, or POA, in New York is a document in which you (the “principal”) give another person (an “agent” or “attorney in fact”) the authority to make legal, financial or medical decisions on your behalf.

Power of attorney laws and requirements vary from state to state. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning to create a power of attorney in New York.

New York power of attorney requirements

In order for your New York POA to be valid, it has to meet these requirements

Justia U.S. Law. NY Gen Oblig L § 5-1501B (2022). Accessed Apr 23, 2023.
:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.

  • You have to have mental capacity, which means you’re able to fully understand your POA and its consequences.

  • Your agent must also be at least 18 years old and have mental capacity.

  • Your POA must be typed or written in legible font (nothing smaller than 12 point).

  • A financial POA must be signed in the presence of two witnesses and then notarized. In New York, your notary can be one of your witnesses. A medical POA (known in New York as a health care proxy) only needs two witnesses; it doesn’t need to be notarized

    New York State Department of Health. Health Care Proxy Form . Accessed Apr 23, 2023.

  • Witnesses can’t be your agent and shouldn’t be anyone who will benefit from your estate.

  • Your agent needs to sign your POA, but it doesn’t have to be at the same time as you and your witnesses sign.

  • Your POA must include certain statutory language. In 2021, New York changed its laws to require the wording in New York powers of attorney to “substantially conform” to specific language in its Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney rules (see them here) so that tiny typos or spelling errors now no longer invalidate a POA. The state’s statutory short form POA can help you create a clear legal document with less confusion.

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Types of New York powers of attorney

There are a variety of options for a New York power of attorney.

  • Statutory/financial power of attorney: This allows your agent to handle financial or business matters for you, such as paying your bills or doing your banking.

  • Health care proxy: Also known as a medical power of attorney, this allows your agent to make decisions about your medical care, including medication, surgery, treatment and end-of-life care.

Within the financial POA category, there are a few very specific subcategories to be aware of in New York:

  • Tax power of attorney: This type of financial POA allows your agent (typically a tax professional) to file your taxes and act on your behalf with the New York state tax authority.

  • Real estate power of attorney: This type of financial POA allows your agent to buy or sell property for you, or otherwise conduct business that involves your real estate property.

  • Vehicle power of attorney: This financial POA allows your agent to handle issues related to your vehicles, including titling and registration

    New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Power of Attorney for Vehicle Transactions. Accessed Apr 23, 2023.
    .

For all types of POA, these subcategories are also available in New York:

  • Durable POA: With this, your agent retains medical or financial authority even if you become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. All New York powers of attorney are durable by default, unless otherwise specified

    Justia U.S. Law. NY Gen Oblig L § 5-1501A (2022) § 5-1501A. Accessed Apr 23, 2023.
    .

  • Nondurable POA: This document no longer remains in effect if you become incapacitated.

  • Springing POA: The POA only becomes effective when the principal becomes incapacitated or when specific contingencies are met, such as a beneficiary coming of age.

  • Limited POA: This gives your agent authority for only a limited time and/or in limited specific transactions.

Creating a New York power of attorney step-by-step

Here’s what you need to do to create a valid POA in New York:

  1. Decide what type of power of attorney you’d like to create.

  2. Obtain the proper form either by using online will software, downloading a statutory POA or health care proxy form from the state or working with an estate planning attorney. Some other, more specific New York POA forms are available here.

  3. Select a person or persons you trust to be your agent.

  4. Select the powers that you’d like your agent to have.

  5. Fill out your form and sign it in the presence of a notary. (You don’t need to notarize a health care proxy.)

  6. Have your agent sign the POA, and give them a copy.

  7. Store your POA in a safe place.

  8. If you’ve created a POA for real estate, file a copy with your local land records office.

  9. You may want to give a copy of your POA to financial institutions where your agent has authority, or for a health care proxy, to your doctors and other health care providers.

  10. Review and update your POA as needed.

What are the power of attorney requirements in my state?

See the requirements for creating a valid power of attorney in these states:

Frequently asked questions

If you want to have someone file your taxes for you (or otherwise represent you regarding your New York state taxes), you should create a New York power of attorney.

Unless your document states otherwise, a durable power of attorney in New York becomes effective as soon as it’s been signed and witnessed.

If you’ve set an expiration date, your POA will end when that date is reached. Additionally, in New York, a power of attorney terminates when:

  • You die.

  • You revoke the POA.

  • A court revokes the POA.

  • You revoke the agent’s authority without having named a co-agent or successor agent, or there is no co-agent or successor agent willing to serve in this role.

  • The agent dies, resigns or becomes incapacitated and there is no co-agent or successor agent named, able or willing to serve.

  • You become incompetent (if the POA isn’t durable).

  • You named a spouse as your agent and then got a divorce (which automatically terminates the spouse’s authority as agent in New York) and there is no co-agent or successor agent named, willing or able to serve.

  • The purpose of the POA has been completed. For example if the POA was only to allow your accountant to file your current state taxes, and the accountant completes the task, the POA expires.

No, your agent doesn’t need your permission, nor do they need to tell you every time they act for you. You can, however, ask your agent to provide you with detailed records of their actions.

Yes. Because of changes to the law in 2009, you can now appoint someone to monitor your agent. The monitor gets legal access to the agent’s records; the idea is to prevent fraud and/or abuse. It’s up to you how often your agent has to report to your monitor.

As long as you’re still competent to make your own decisions, you’re not stuck. If you’re unhappy with your agent, you can simply revoke your power of attorney. When you do this, you’re required to notify your agent and any business or person with whom your agent acted for you in writing.

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