N E W S Additional Information:
New York State Frederick Miller
Lawyers Fund for Client Protection Executive Director & Counsel
(800) 442-3863

Albany, N.Y. The New York Lawyers Fund for Client Protection has published a guide for lawyers and clients that focuses on new state laws that govern Powers of Attorney.

The 12-page pamphlet guide is called What's a Power of Attorney? Answers for New Yorkers. In a plain English question and answer format, the guide addresses basic principles of law, and important changes in New York statutes that took effect on January 1, 1997.

Topics include the differences between "Durable," "Nondurable," and "Springing" Powers of Attorney; the selection of persons to serve as agents under Powers of Attorney; the fiduciary obligations of agents; how a consumer revokes a Power of Attorney; how to protect against the misuse of Powers of Attorney; and transferring property using a Power of Attorney.

According to Frederick Miller, Executive Director and Counsel to the fund, the Power of Attorney has become an important legal tool in the area of estate and health planning. He noted that present law permits a Power of Attorney to survive a person's mental incompetence, as in Alzheimer's Disease; or to take effect upon the happening of an event, like a person's medical disability.

"A signed Power of Attorney can be very helpful", Miller said. "But it's also like giving someone a blank check on your bank account. Selecting a trustworthy agent to serve under a Power of Attorney is critical. So is keeping an eye on what your agent is doing with your Power of Attorney. The smart consumer will consult a lawyer."

Miller noted that the New York State Legislature made several important changes in the laws involving Powers of Attorney, which took effect on January 1, 1997. He said that consumers should not purchase, or use, Powers of Attorney forms from stationers or office supply stores that are dated earlier than January 1, 1997.

The New York Lawyers Fund is a court agency trust fund that is financed by the legal profession in New York State to protect law clients from dishonest conduct in the practice of law. The fund is administered pro bono by a Board of Trustees, lawyers and nonlawyers, appointed by the State Court of Appeals.

The Lawyers Fund produced What's a Power of Attorney?, as a public service for New Yorkers, with the help of the Government Law Center of the Albany Law School of Union University.

Copies of What's a Power of Attorney? are available, free of charge, from the Lawyers Fund in Albany by calling 800-442-3863, or 518-434-1935.