New Power of Attorney Law Takes Effect October 1
People who want to plan ahead for the management of their financial affairs in the event they become incapacitated have greater assurance that their wishes will be carried out because of a state law that takes effect Oct. 1, 2016.
Changes to the Connecticut Uniform Power of Attorney (POA) Act are designed to make powers of attorney easier to use. One important provision requires banks and other financial institutions to honor a POA document and grants new authority to the Probate Courts to compel these institutions to accept POAs. The act also better protects vulnerable individuals from POA abuses and financial exploitation by providing remedies through the Probate Courts.
“Under the old law, many people were frustrated that they had planned ahead only to have a bank disregard the POA for various reasons, including that it was too old or executed on the wrong form,” Probate Court Administrator Paul J. Knierim said. “By allowing people to seek redress in the Probate Courts, the new law helps families and individuals make their financial arrangements with more confidence.”
The new law also gives the Probate Courts additional authority to resolve problems that may develop in the course of following a POA document. “It permits family members and others concerned about the well-being of an individual to have the Probate Court review the conduct of the agent (the person charged with carrying out an individual’s wishes),” Judge Knierim said. “If the court finds that the agent has acted improperly, the court can order the agent to reimburse the individual for any financial losses.”
The new law applies retroactively, meaning its safeguards extend to existing valid POA documents. More information about the Connecticut Uniform Power of Attorney, along with the forms, can be found at the Connecticut Bar Association’s website (www.ctbar.org/2016POA), and the Connecticut Network for Legal Aid’s website under “Elder Law” on Oct. 1, ctlawhelp.org. For questions related to substantive matters, competent professional advice should always be sought.
Connecticut’s previous law governing POAs was enacted 51 years ago. With the new law, the state joins 17 other states that have adopted the updated POA law.