A power of attorney is a standardized legal form created by statute that gives an agent the ability to act on behalf of the principal in the event that he or she becomes disabled or incapacitated. It is particularly important to keep a Power of Attorney up to date as well as periodically review the document in order to add enumerated powers or update it in accordance with new case law or life circumstances, even if the agents remain the same.
A recent example occurred when Governor Chris Christie signed legislation acknowledging a fiduciaries right to control a decedent’s digital assets. The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act allows fiduciaries to manage or take control of digital property. This includes electronic files on a computer, websites, and even virtual currency. However, the Act restricts a fiduciary’s ability to access certain electronic communications, such as text messages, e-mails, and social media, unless the person gave prior written consent in his or her Will, trust, or Power of Attorney.
For fiduciaries to access certain digital assets under a Power of Attorney, the power must be specifically referenced in the modification section of the document. Without the power being specifically referenced in the document, the account administrator is entitled to refuse to accept the Power of Attorney document. While the law allows an account holder to designate who may access his or her digital accounts, without the proper documentation or details of the extent to which a fiduciary may access the information, the account may be deleted or frozen by the administrator.
In recent years, digital assets have become sentimental like tangible items have always been. In addition, some digital assets hold monetary value, such as an unpublished manuscript. It is important to update estate-planning documents to reflect changes in the law. In addition, it is imperative that every person has a Power of Attorney in the event that he or she becomes incapacitated. It is important to recognize that a Power of Attorney is a complex document that should be drafted by an experienced attorney, in order to protect your assets and ensure that your legal rights are preserved. A good power of attorney is tailored to meet a person’s individual circumstances, needs, goals, and concerns.
The experienced New Jersey estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones, & Sweeney help families handle all aspects of estate planning, probate, and estate administration. Our New Jersey estate planning lawyers are trusted by their clients to handle each legal matter with diligence and compassion. For more information, contact our New Jersey estate planning law firm at (973) 256-0456.