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Terminating power of attorney

When individuals living in New York establish an estate plan, many of them opt to designate a trusted friend or relative with power of attorney. Power of attorney allows an appointed individual to act on behalf of somebody who is no longer able to make decisions for him or herself.

A person who has power of attorney may be vested with a wide range of powers, including the ability to determine how money is spent, assets are managed or medical care is decided. Because these powers are so significant, it is very important that individuals who are planning and estate choose a person they absolutely trust for this role. Unfortunately, circumstances can change, and an individual may decide that the person they chose to assume power of attorney is no longer suited to that role.

When choosing to remove power of attorney from an individual, it is important to take quick and decisive action. This is because a person may become incapacitated any time due to a sudden illness or accident. Notifying the person about the decision by certified mail is one way to establish a paper trail showing that the estate planner has changed his or her mind.

As a precaution, the estate planner should also notify parties with knowledge of the power of attorney about the change. For example, medical professionals, retirement home staff and family members should likewise receive a written communication about the change.

Individuals who are considering a change in estate planning may benefit from speaking with an attorney to advise them on the correct procedure for doing so. A lawyer may also be able to communicate with an individual who was previously given power of attorney but is being uncooperative about making necessary adjustments to the estate plan.

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