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Durable Powers of Attorney: What You Need to Know

Last updated on: October 6, 2023
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Most people think of estate planning as making a plan for what will happen after they pass away, but in fact it encompasses a lot more than that. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you were still living, but somehow incapacitated and unable to manage your own financial affairs? What if you were unconscious and could not express your own desires about your healthcare?

This is where a New Jersey estate planning lawyer can provide valuable assistance. At The Matus Law Group, our lawyers can help you understand power of attorney and assist you in establishing a durable power of attorney that ensures your financial and personal affairs are managed according to your wishes, even if you become incapacitated. Contact us at (732) 281-0060 and let our experienced attorneys assist you in safeguarding your interests.

Fortunately, there is an estate planning tool that can help with these scenarios. It is called a durable power of attorney. You may already be familiar with the term “power of attorney,” but if not, here’s a basic summary: A power of attorney is an estate planning document in which one person, referred to as the “principal,” grants certain authority over the management of their affairs to someone they trust. The trusted person who is given authority through the power of attorney can be called the “agent” or the “attorney-in-fact.”

There are different types of power attorney. Among them are the healthcare power of attorney, which authorized the agent to make medical decisions, the general power of attorney, which authorized the agent to make financial decisions, and the limited power of attorney, through which the principal can pick or choose what authority he or she grants the agent.

A regular power of attorney loses its validity in one of three scenarios: when the principal revokes it, when you reach an expiration date that was set during its creation, or when the principal becomes in any way incapacitated. However, power of attorney can be made durable and a durable power of attorney continues to be valid if the principal becomes incapacitated. This makes it extremely valuable when accidents or health issues arise that prevent the principal from making his or her own decisions.

Having a durable power of attorney in place gives you peace of mind that if something happens to you — whether you lose your mental capacity to a disease like dementia or Alzheimer, or you are in an accident that leaves you in a coma — a trusted person will have the ability to legal act on your behalf and ensure that everything is handled as you would have wanted when you were fully aware and conscious.

Power Of Attorney After Death

A power of attorney is a legal document that grants an individual, frequently called the agent or attorney-in-fact, the permission to act on behalf of another person –referred to as the principal– in specific circumstances. This authorization is applicable while the principal is alive and capable and ends when the principal passes away. 

Upon the death of the principal, the power of attorney automatically loses its validity. Consequently, the agent loses the legal right to represent the principal or make decisions on their behalf. Any actions carried out by the agent after the principal’s death are deemed unauthorized and lack legal validity.

In some cases, the agent could also be designated as the executor of the principal’s will. In such situations, they are entrusted with the duty of overseeing the principal’s affairs after their death. However, this role as an executor is separate from and not dependent on the power of attorney.

Navigating the complexities of estate planning involves understanding the role of a power of attorney, even beyond one’s lifetime. At The Matus Law Group, our New Jersey estate planning lawyers can offer invaluable guidance in establishing power of attorney to ensure a seamless transition of affairs and the fulfillment of your wishes. Contact us to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards securing your legacy.

Who can help me create a durable power of attorney?

If you want to create a durable power of attorney, it is important to do so with the guidance of an attorney rather than using online forms. An attorney can help you make sure your power of attorney is legally sound and does exactly what you intend for it to do. The Matus Law Group team has extensive experience helping clients with these issues, so please do not hesitate to contact us today.

Durable Powers of Attorney Description
Definition A durable power of attorney is an estate planning tool that grants authority to a trusted agent to manage the affairs of the principal in case of incapacity.
Types Different types include healthcare power of attorney (medical decisions), general power of attorney (financial decisions), and limited power of attorney (specific authority).
Importance A durable power of attorney ensures someone trusted can legally act on behalf of the principal in case of incapacity due to illness or accident.

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Christine Matus

Christine Matus

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