Understanding Durable Power of Attorney

It’s never too early to start the estate planning process. While it can be easy to put it off, or to say you’ll get around to it next year, it’s crucial to have a plan in place that will protect and provide for your loved ones if something happens to you. Additionally, many people believe they don’t need to start thinking about estate planning until later in life, or until they experience an injury or an illness, but making all the necessary arrangements now will make things easier for you and your family.  

One document often used in estate planning is Durable Power of Attorney. This is an important document to understand and to have in place, so what is Durable Power of Attorney and how is it used? To start, Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to choose someone to act on your behalf to make legal, financial, or medical decisions. But Power of Attorney is not valid once you become incapacitated, and this is where Durable Power of Attorney becomes important.

Durable Power of Attorney gives someone – a person chosen by you – the authority to make decisions about your medical care and your finances if you become incapacitated, either by injury or illness. With Durable Power of Attorney legally in place, the person you’ve selected to act on your behalf will be able to do essential things like:

  • Pay your bills and deposit checks on your behalf
  • Make medical decisions on your behalf, including decisions about your treatment
  • Manage your bank accounts, assets and investments

Why Durable Power of Attorney is essential 

Durable Power of Attorney is often separated into two categories – finances and healthcare – and you will need to nominate a person to act on your behalf in each area. It can be the same person, or you may have family members who are specialists in these categories who you would trust to make decisions for you if you become unable.  

If you become incapacitated and haven’t chosen a durable power of attorney, decisions about your medical care may be made by doctors and your family will not have a say. Families that find themselves in this situation often go to court in order to be allowed to make decisions about their loved one’s care, causing them additional distress during an already difficult time. The same is true for your financial decisions – families are left having to petition the court to gain access to their loved one’s finances. 

For more information about estate planning, including Last Will and Testament and Power of Attorney, please contact us today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their estate planning attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.

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