At Rosenberg & Gluck, where our attorneys focus on helping clients who suffer serious personal injuries, our cases frequently underscore the importance of powers of attorney. Too often, we see cases involving catastrophic injuries; individuals become disabled, suffer brain trauma or may be in a coma after an accident and are not able to execute documents on their own behalf. In such circumstances, the spouse or other family member has to go to the Surrogate Court to seek appointment as a guardian, with the power to manage affairs and make medical decisions for the incapacitated individual.
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that conveys authority to another to act on your behalf concerning medical, financial and other matters. A general power of attorney becomes null and void when the person giving the power becomes incapacitated. That means if someone experiences dementia, brain damage or is otherwise incapable of communicating the person who received the power of attorney no longer has authority to act on behalf of the incapacitated individual. A Durable Power of Attorney, however, remains in effect in spite of a subsequent disability.
While a Durable Power of Attorney can benefit anyone who finds himself unexpectedly incapacitated, the legal document is also a “must have” for the elderly. Once an elderly person starts to lose mental capacity, it is too late to establish a power of attorney. With a POA in place, if the nursing home resident, for example, has an injury, develops bedsores or is a victim of other negligence, the person who has the POA can hire an attorney without having to go through a long process of getting a Guardian appointed under New York’s Mental Hygiene Law.
Chances are, if you have prepared a last will and testament or estate plan, your attorney will have recommended a power of attorney to ensure that you have covered the possibility that you may need someone to act on your behalf, at some point in the future. If you, an aging parent or someone you care about does not have a durable power of attorney, we encourage you to prepare for life’s unexpected turns.
The New York law firm of Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP is located on Long Island. When you need trusted legal advice and guidance concerning a serious personal injury, call our office at 631-451-7900 or toll-free at 1-888-LI-LAWYER (1-888-545-2993). We will be glad to arrange a no cost, no obligation case evaluation with a Long Island personal injury lawyer.