Key Considerations When Choosing Your Power of Attorney
A power of attorney, or POA, is a document that gives another person, most often called an agent or proxy, the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. A Power of attorney often comes into effect when someone falls ill or becomes legally incapacitated and cannot make legal decisions for themselves.
Thereare many types of power of attorney documents, each with its own specifications that might make one or more of them relevant for you and your situation. Allow our estate planning attorneys to walk you through your options.
Key Characteristics Your Power of Attorney Should Have
Before deciding on the type of power of attorney you want, you need to decide to whom you’ll grant this authority. This person, ideally, should:
- Live close by
- Be trustworthy
- Be decisive
- Understand medical and financial matters; and
- Be able to articulate decisions accurately on your behalf, as you would do for yourself.
Keep in mind that this individual will be acting on your behalf, so should decide carefully.
Once you’ve selected the individual to act as your proxy, the next step is to identify the type of power of attorney you need.
General Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney authorizes your proxy to act on your behalf in all situations that your local law will permit. General power of attorney documents cover many legal and financial decisions. Your proxy cannot make a Last Will and Testament on your behalf, but the proxy may have authority to create trusts for you to implement your testamentary wishes.
General power of attorney documents can be both durable and non-durable. This distinction is crucial, as non-durability can limit your proxy’s authority.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is valid as soon as you sign it, and allows your proxy to continue acting on your behalf even if you become incapacitated. For example, if you were to fall into a coma, your proxy could continue making decisions for you.
A Power of attorney can be used for your estate plan, as your proxy can continue working on your estate plan and implement new aspects of the estate plan, even if you face a sudden decline in health.
Some states will consider a power of attorney durable unless explicitly stated as non-durable.
Non-Durable Power of Attorney
In contrast, a proxy’s authority under a non-durable power of attorney ends if you become incapacitated.
Springing Power of Attorney
A springing power of attorney gives a proxy the power to act on your behalf only if specific conditions are met.
A common condition to be met in a springing power of attorney is your incapacitation. If you happen to become incapacitated, your power of attorney will “spring” into action and authorize your proxy to act for you. However, the proxy would have to prove your incapacity, which often takes time.
Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney limits your proxy’s decisions to only financial matters. These documents can be useful when you only want to give someone the ability to pay bills, withdraw funds, file your taxes for you, or other limited functions.
Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney gives your proxy the right to make decisions regarding your medical interests. The medical proxy is authorized to communicate your medical wishes to your doctors when you are unable to communicate yourself. Your medical proxy is usually authorized to have access to your medical records and information.
Find the Right New Jersey Power of Attorney for You With BMC Estate Planning
Deciding which power of attorney is most suitable for your situation can be difficult, but BMC is here to make the process easier for you. Together, we can find the best POA document for you. Get in touch with us today.
Getting in touch
Borenstein, McConnell & Calpin, P.C. is a Wills & Estate Planning law firm serving Central and Northern New Jersey, as well as New York City. We strive not only to give you a great client experience, but to become your trusted adviser for life. To reach Alec, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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