A power of attorney (POA) allows you to select someone to manage your financial affairs if you become incapable of doing so. It becomes effective immediately after being signed by you and your designated agent and its validity ends upon your death.
A will ensures that your wishes for how to provide for your loved ones after your death are followed. But you have to make sure that both your will and your POA are current and in compliance with current New York law.
Notably, the New York power of attorney law has recently changed. The new provisions went into effect on June 13, 2021 for all POAs signed on or after that date. According to the New York State Bar Association, nursing home and long-term care facility residents “found it nearly impossible” to fill out the form during the COVID-19 without attorneys present, invalidating forms for “harmless errors.” As a result, among other changes, the new law does not require precise language in the POA and instead, allows for substantially compliant wording.
Still, if you already had a POA at that time, it's a good idea to revisit your current POA as well as your will to ensure that they still accurately reflect your larger estate planning goals.
Some reasons you may need to update your will and POA include:
- Residence: If you've moved from one state to another as your estate planning documents must be valid in your new state of residence, and state requirements vary.
- Marital or relationship status: If you have gotten married or divorced or have separated from a partner, you should ensure your will provisions accurately reflect your wishes.
- Birth, adoption, or death of a loved one: If they are beneficiaries or you would like them to be – or if you have named them as your POA – you must update your documents.
For wills specifically, if you have sold or purchased assets, or their value has changed significantly, you should revisit your will.