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Appointing an attorney-in-fact

New York residents may want to consider who they will appoint under a power of attorney as part of their estate plan. This is the person who among other duties will deal with their finances if they are unable to do so as a result of becoming incapacitated. In some families, choosing such a person may lead to conflict. One woman was concerned after her 66-year-old father had a stroke and appointed his girlfriend as attorney-in-fact. The girlfriend told the daughter that she was also being left everything in his will.

The daughter and her brother were concerned because they wanted to keep the house their father owned in the family. However, family members do not necessarily have this right over a person named in a will. They can have a medical evaluation for their family member if they are concerned that the relative lacks the capacity to appoint someone under a power of attorney, and they may want to speak to an attorney who has experience with conservatorship matters.

One problem in a situation like this one is that the children might be suspicious of the girlfriend, and the girlfriend may be suspicious of the children. However, it is important for family members to keep in mind that loved ones have the right to make their own choices even if they disapprove.

It is similarly important for a person to create a will and name an executor. However, many people die without making plans for the distribution of their estate. This is called dying intestate, and in such an event the decedent's assets will be distributed in accordance with state law.

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