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What is a Power of Attorney?

As you grow older, it is natural for your physical and mental health to decline. While it may be manageable at first, over time it may become harder and harder to manage your own affairs, and eventually you may need to consider allowing someone else to handle things for you. It is for this reason that you should consider whether a power of attorney would be appropriate for you and your estate plan.

A power of attorney is a legal arrangement where someone else you have designated as your representative can make legal or financial decisions on your behalf. For example, a person who has been granted a power of attorney can access to the person’s money to pay the person’s bills on their behalf or move money in or out of their bank accounts as necessary. With it, the agent can represent the person if the person is involved in a lawsuit, or make medical decisions on their behalf, including giving informed consent to treatment where appropriate.

It is important to carefully consider whom you choose to name as your attorney-in-fact. Because a power of attorney typically only becomes an issue when you are unable to make decisions on your own behalf, it means that whoever is granted that power has the ability to cause significant problems for you that can be difficult to unwind. You should choose a person you trust will make decisions in your best interest and won’t abuse their authority over you.

There are two forms a power of attorney can take.  One is known as a “durable” power of attorney which takes effect immediately and remains effective even if you become incapacitated at some time in the future.  The other form is known as a “springing” power of attorney which only takes effect if you are later declared incapacitated, usually by two independent medical professionals.

If you are considering a power of attorney, an experienced attorney can walk you through the process and craft a document that protects your wishes. The attorneys at Hunziker, Jones, and Sweeney, P.A. have the skills and experience to help you in these important and sensitive matters. Call (973) 256-0456 or fill out our contact form for a consultation.

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