May 23, 2018: State Bar Association Urges Legislature to Improve NYS's Power of Attorney For Consumers

In a letter sent this week to every member of the New York State Legislature, State Bar Association President Sharon Stern Gerstman called for passage of the Association’s proposal to improve the power of attorney for New York consumers.

“A power of attorney is important because it is often used in real estate and business dealings, to plan health care coverage, and by people who have elderly or disabled family members who need help with their financial affairs,” Gerstman said.  “It is also important because having a validly-executed power of attorney can help consumers avoid being involved in costly and time-consuming court proceedings.” 

However, the current power of attorney form “is too complex, too costly, and unreasonably difficult for consumers to comprehend on their own,” she added.  

Members of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA), whose practices regularly involve the execution and enforcement of powers of attorney, studied this issue. The resulting report addresses the concerns of practitioners and their clients. Based on this analysis, NYSBA urges enactment of legislation that would:

  • Simplify the current power of attorney form;
  • Prevent third parties from improperly refusing to recognize a consumer’s valid power of attorney;
  • Provide protection for third parties who follow the process for accepting a power of attorney; and
  • Authorize language in the power of attorney form that is substantially the same as the statutory language, in order to prevent the form being invalidated because of a minor, typographical or other insubstantial error.

“Our proposal is designed to ease the burden on consumers and their families at a time when they need simple and effective solutions,” said Gerstman.  “We respectfully ask that Senators and Assembly Members enact this legislation before the end of the legislative session in June,” she said.

The letter to legislators included information as to how the current law adversely affects New Yorkers on a daily basis.  A copy of the letter can be seen at the following link:

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.


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Managing Director, Marketing and Communications