In the wake of the news that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a New York State Bar Association-advanced bill into law that simplifies and improves the state’s power of attorney form, NYSBA offered a free virtual overview session for members and the media on Dec. 16.
Additionally, on Friday, Dec. 18 NYSBA will offer a Continuing Legal Education program – The New Power of Attorney: What Lawyers Need To Know.
NYSBA President Scott M. Karson provided introductory remarks at today’s event, noting NYSBA’s longtime advocacy for the reform and described it as a “badly needed statutory change, which makes the power of attorney in the state of New York far more user-friendly, far more consumer friendly and we will all be the better for it I’m sure.”
A power of attorney is one of the most widely used legal documents, allowing people who fear they will no longer be able to manage their own financial affairs to transfer that power to someone else. Under current law, these documents were being needlessly rejected because of harmless errors, necessitating costly guardianship procedures. Banks and other institutions often declined to accept them because there were no financial penalties for doing so.
The changes in the law give new protections to consumers and have taken on even more significance in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
David Goldfarb, former chair of NYSBA’s Elder Law and Special Needs Section, provided an overview of the changes in the law for the more than 300 people who attended. Goldfarb has been included in The Best Lawyers in America in the practice of Elder Law since 2010 and named Best Lawyers’ 2014 and 2018 New York City Elder Law “Lawyer of the Year.” He was given the Elder Law Attorney of the Year award in 2011 by the Evelyn Frank Legal Resource Program.
“From the very beginning when the previous law was passed in 2009-2010, I think the state bar was not too happy with it,” said Goldfarb.
He noted that lawmakers did not take up NYSBA recommendations until 2015 when the association established the Working Group on the Power of Attorney comprised of members from NYSBA’s Elder Law and Special Needs Section, Trusts & Estates Law Section, Business Law Section, Real Property Law Section and Health Law Section. The Task Force determined that the current power of attorney statute should be modified to include both substantive and technical changes and issued a report with recommendations, which was adopted by NYSBA’s House of Delegates in 2016 and provided the basis for the new law signed by Gov. Cuomo on Dec. 15.
During Friday’s NYSBA CLE webinar, Goldfarb will address the elimination of the exact wording requirement; elimination of the Statutory Gifts Rider; changes to the statutory short form; changes to the construction sections of the statute; requirements for acceptance by third parties; penalties for unreasonable non-acceptance; signing by another at the direction of a principal; new witnessing requirements; and when you need to start using the new form and the status and enforceability of existing forms.
Click here to register.