What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives a person you choose the power to act in your place. You may also set up a durable power of attorney to ensure your wishes are carried out in case you ever become mentally incapacitated. A New Jersey power of attorney sample or New Jersey power of attorney form can likely be found online, but it is best to talk to an estate planning attorney before you give another party any control over your medical care or finances.

With a simple power of attorney, you name another person or institution (such as a bank) as your "agent" or "attorney-in-fact" to act for you in handling your affairs. Your power of attorney may be able to sign checks, make deposits, pay bills, sell property, and more, depending on your needs.

Durable Power of Attorney

Unlike a simple power of attorney, a durable power of attorney continues even if you become incapacitated and unable to act on your own behalf. In order to be valid, it must be signed by you before you become disabled.

Planning for lifetime disability is an important part of estate planning. A durable power of attorney allows you to choose who will be in control of your affairs if you are unable to make decisions on your own behalf. Some of the advantages of having a durable power of attorney in place include:

  • You select the person who will act on your behalf, rather than a judge.
  • You will have peace of mind knowing you have named someone to handle your affairs.
  • You and your family will avoid the time and expense of a court hearing to appoint a guardian or conservator.

A durable power of attorney may be limited to authority over financial matters and property. For medical decisions, you should designate someone to act as your healthcare proxy.

Power of Attorney versus Living Will

In New Jersey, a power of attorney generally covers financial matters, while a proxy directive covers health care. A living will is a document setting out the types of medical treatment you would or would not like to receive in certain situations. New Jersey calls this form an instruction directive.

Contact The Law Offices of Smith & Doran, P.C., for Help with a Power of Attorney

If you need assistance with a power of attorney, durable power of attorney, or healthcare directive in New Jersey, please contact an estate planning attorney at The Law Offices of Smith & Doran, P.C. We can help ensure your planning documents accurately reflect your wishes.