Power of Attorney FAQs

Refer to our Power of Attorney FAQs for answers to many common questions.

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1. What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a powerful document. It allows you to designate someone else, referred to as your “agent,” to act on your behalf with or without your consent. NYSTRS accepts New York State POAs, Out-of-State POAs and the Public Retirement System Special Durable Power of Attorney (Special POA).

The Special POA allows an agent to act on your behalf with respect to your retirement transactions at NYSTRS and other New York State public retirement systems. This POA does not grant authority for any other legal transactions. The Special POA may be executed in any other state as long as it is properly notarized and witnessed. You may access the Special POA at this link.

2. What changes were made recently to state laws regarding a Power of Attorney?

Legislation enacted in 2021 eliminated the separate Statutory Gifts Rider and changed some signature requirements among other things. For details, see the summary of the laws on our 2021 Legislation page.

3. Do I have to execute a new POA now that the law has changed?

A properly executed POA, executed in accordance with the laws in effect at the time of its execution remains valid and must be honored. 

4. What is the difference between a Durable and Non-Durable POA?

A Durable POA is not affected by your subsequent incapacity or incompetence. A Non-Durable POA is void if you become incapacitated or incompetent.

5. What can you authorize your agent to do on your behalf with a POA?

You may grant your agent Standard Authority and Gifting Authority.  Depending on the level of authority granted, at NYSTRS your agent will be able to conduct the following transactions:

  • Standard Authority - allows your agent to access account-specific benefit information; update address/phone number; obtain contribution balance; take a loan; change direct deposit to an account solely owned by you; obtain copies of retirement documents; apply for retirement benefits; and change a tax withholding (for retirees).
  • Gifting Authority - allows your agent to change your direct deposit to a joint bank account; elect a pension payment option that provides for a beneficiary; designate or change death benefit beneficiaries; and name the agent themself as your beneficiary if “self-gifting” is granted.

6. How do you grant your agent authority using the Special POA?

Using the Special POA grants both Standard and Gifting authority. It also grants self-gifting authority to your spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child. If you want to authorize self-gifting to an agent who is not your immediate family member, you must initial the specific authority in the Modifications section. You can restrict the authority of your agent by indicating any limitations in the Modifications section (form page 4, section g). If you want your agent to have the ability to designate themself as your beneficiary even though the agent is not an immediate family member, you also may indicate this in the Modifications section.

7. How do you grant your agent authority using the New York State Statutory POA?

To give your agent Standard Authority at NYSTRS using a New York State Statutory POA, under the Grant of Authority section at letter (f), you must initial at letter (L) (retirement benefit transactions).

To grant Gifting Authority at NYSTRS using a New York State Statutory POA, you must initial at letter (g) (certain gift transactions) and expressly grant authorization in the Modifications section. The following NYSTRS transactions require an express grant of authority in the Modifications section: (1) change your direct deposit to a joint bank account; (2) elect a pension payment option that provides for a beneficiary; (3) designate or change death benefit beneficiaries; and (4) “self-gifting” authority for your agent to name themself as your beneficiary.

8. Should I send a copy of my POA to NYSTRS?

Although you are not required to, we urge you to submit your POA to NYSTRS so it can be reviewed and noted in your record. Having your POA on file at NYSTRS will prevent any delay should your agent need to access your account information in an emergency. Additionally, once the POA has been reviewed, we will advise you (and your agent, when appropriate) what level of authority your agent has regarding your NYSTRS account.

You may submit a copy of your POA whether you are retired or still working to NYSTRS at 10 Corporate Woods Drive, Albany, NY 12211. In certain instances, we may require you to submit the original POA. Note that if your agent is submitting a POA that is more than 10 years old, NYSTRS will request your agent complete and submit a fully executed Affidavit Power of Attorney is in Full Force and Effect (POA-1). We recommend you keep a personal copy for your records. 

9. How do I revoke a POA on file with NYSTRS?

You may revoke or terminate your POA at any time by mailing a signed letter to NYSTRS.  

10. Can I still handle my own NYSTRS retirement transactions with a POA on file?

Yes. With any type of POA on file, you may still handle your own retirement affairs.

11. What should I do if I still have questions?

If you have questions about how to complete a New York State POA, the requirements of New York’s General Obligations Law Title 15, or an out-of-state POA, we strongly urge you to consult an attorney. 

If you have questions about how to submit your POA to NYSTRS, questions about the Special POA or questions about what authority your agent will have at NYSTRS, please contact NYSTRS at 800-348-7298, ext. 6150.

Disclaimer: This FAQ Sheet was drafted by NYSTRS in order to help members understand pension issues surrounding powers of attorney. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information offered. However, you should not rely solely on the information contained herein. In the event of any discrepancy between the information contained in this FAQ and state and federal law, the state and federal law will govern. NYSTRS staff is unable to address specific legal questions. If you have legal questions about your power of attorney or executing one, please consult an attorney.