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New Jersey elder law: POA agent limits

Setting up powers of attorney is part of a good estate plan. Knowing that one has one or more people assigned to handle health care and financial affairs in the event that one no longer can for him or herself due to age or infirmity can grant great peace of mind. When it comes down to it, though, there are POA agents who may try to overstep and abuse the power entrusted to them. New Jersey residents who believe this is happening to their loved ones may turn to an elder law attorney for help.

A POA can be very detailed and cover a lot of ground or it can be fairly limited. It all depends on how it is ultimately written. No matter how the final document comes out, one thing is clear, the assigned agent or agents do not have unlimited power. There are certain things a POA agent is prohibited from doing.

So, what can't a POA agent do? A person in this position cannot change the principal's estate planning documents -- such as his or her will. The agent cannot breach fiduciary duty -- meaning he or she must always act in the best interests of the principal. The agent cannot make decisions for the principal after the principal's death -- this job falls on the executor of the estate. Finally, the agent does not have the right to transfer the POA to another party.

If a POA agent is thought to be abusing his or her power, concerned parties have the right to question it. It may be possible to have the POA reassigned to someone else, but this is something that requires court approval. A New Jersey-based elder law attorney may be able to help those dealing with a POA crisis by investigating the matter and filing legal actions if doing so is deemed appropriate.

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Thomas N. Torzewski, LLC

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