Our New Jersey estate planning attorneys recognize that many people do not have an estate plan because they do not understand the relevance of estate planning documents to their particular situation. Young people may presume estate plans are merely for older people. They fail to understand that there are many estate planning documents that all adults should have regardless of age.
An estate plan can serve a wide range of functions that include:
- Protecting your assets from creditors and judgments
- Avoiding adverse tax consequences
- Providing for the smooth transfer of your assets or business
- Specifying any extraordinary medical measures you want taken if you are terminally ill and unconscious or incapacitated
- Parental designation of guardians for their children if they die
- Protecting assets from your family members’ creditors
- Appointing someone to manage your financial affairs if you are incapacitated by an accident or other cause
- Designating someone to make health care decisions for you when you are mentally incapacitated because of injury or serious illness
Estate planning documents can be viewed as individual tools in a chest that address different functions. One tool that every adult should have is a power of attorney. There are many misconceptions about this important estate planning tool, so we have provided some answers to frequently asked questions about a power of attorney in New Jersey.
If I am relatively young and in good health, why do I need a power of attorney?
There are many people involved in motor vehicle accidents and other serious accidents that cause incapacitating injuries. Whether you are unconscious for only a few days or suffer a prolonged period of incapacity, a power of attorney can provide a contingency plan so that your financial affairs and medical decisions are handled by someone you trust.
What is a power of attorney?
A power of attorney (POA) designates a third party (attorney in fact) to make health care or financial decisions on your behalf if you (the principle) become mentally incapacitated or unconscious. If you are too ill to manage your financial affairs but have no power of attorney, family members may need to go to court for a guardianship or conservatorship, which can take time and be costly.
What does a durable power of attorney do?
A durable power of attorney is effective even when you are unconscious or incapacitated. If your power of attorney does not specifically indicate that it is a “durable power of attorney,” the delegation of powers will only be in effect during the specific time frame indicated in the document. If no time frame is specified and the term “durable” is not used, the authorization will expire upon death or incapacitation.
We are one of the most experienced and accomplished estate planning law firms in New Jersey with more than 30 years of experience. If you are considering estate planning options in NJ or NY, we invite you to call us now at (201) 690-1642 to set up a consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning lawyer in New Jersey or New York City.