A durable power of attorney is a document, authorized by state law, which allows a person to designate another party to handle his or her affairs. What makes these powers of attorney “durable” is that they continue to be in force even after a person loses the mental capacity required to create such an arrangement. For this reason, they are often used in situations in which a person is aware of the fact that he or she may lose mental capacity in the future and wants to ensure that his or her affairs are handled by a trusted friend or family member.
Who are the Parties to a Durable Power of Attorney?
The person who creates the power of attorney is referred to as the “principal,” and the person who is authorized to act on the principal’s behalf is referred to as the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.”
What Decisions can an Agent Make on a Principal’s Behalf?
A durable power of attorney is a very flexible document that can be specifically tailored to meet the needs and specific interests of the parties involved. For example, many people choose to execute a “general” power of attorney that allows another person to make financial decisions on his or her behalf, such as buying or selling real estate, managing a business, creating a trust, paying debts, or pursuing litigation. In some cases, people may include healthcare decisions in a general power of attorney document, but many people choose to make a separate durable power of attorney that is specific to decisions regarding healthcare.
Do I need an Attorney to Create a Durable Power of Attorney?
There is no rule that requires an attorney to be involved in the creation of a durable power of attorney, and there is no shortage of “do-it-yourself” forms available online. It is highly advisable to consult with an attorney, however, in order to ensure that the document into which you enter accurately represents your wishes and that all potential issues are adequately addressed.
Contact a New Jersey Estate Planning Attorney Today to Discuss Your Situation
If you are considering creating a durable power of attorney for yourself or your loved one you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. The assistance of an attorney can help ensure that the durable power of attorney you establish fits your needs and accurately reflects the wishes of both the principal and the agent. To discuss your circumstances with a New Jersey estate planning lawyer, call John L. Schettino today at 201-498-9768 or send us an email through our online contact form.