Why You Need A Power Of Attorney
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A current and comprehensive durable power of attorney is the most important legal document an elder needs. For a modest fee, you can name a trusted person to act for you and protect your financial interests without bearing the costly and time-consuming anguish of a petition for guardianship if you become incapacitated. Most existing power of attorney documents that we have reviewed do not sufficiently address transfers or gift planning. “Durable” means it is effective even if you later become disabled or incapacitated. Thus, a durable power of attorney can avoid the need for a court-appointed guardianship at a cost of 10 times the power of attorney.
New Jersey significantly changed its power of attorney law in 2004 to require asset preservation planning and gifting to be specifically authorized in that document. If you have a New Jersey power of attorney that was drafted prior to 2004, the document may be missing crucial language to permit your agent to protect assets. We can review your power of attorney, will and living will as part of our fee-free consultation.
The Importance Of A Power Of Attorney Document
A power of attorney is a written document in which you appoint another person to act to protect your assets if you require long-term care in an assisted living facility or nursing home. The party you select has a fiduciary duty to preserve and protect your assets, enforceable by a court. He or she is not a replacement for you but adds an assistant to help you.
The power of attorney that our attorneys will draft for you is not a boilerplate document or computer form where you fill in your name and sign at the bottom. One size does not fit all when it comes to a power of attorney. We will tailor the document to fit your needs based on your age, your health and the size of your estate.
Power Of Attorney Vs. Guardianship
If you have a power of attorney in place, your loved ones will not have to go through the anguish and humiliation of seeking a guardian to be appointed by a court if you become incapacitated. Someone may also contest the guardianship. Often, you can authorize a power of attorney to do everything a guardian could do and assure that if a guardian must be appointed, your personal choice for that role will be considered by a court.
If you wait too long and become incapacitated, you may not be considered legally capable to appoint a power of attorney/agent since a higher degree of legal capacity is required to name a power of attorney than to do a will.
Vince Macri is one of only 450 attorneys nationwide who are certified in elder law (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation.