Getting an estate plan together that has everything one needs can be a bit of a challenge. It may be easy to overlook certain legal documents that would be good for New Jersey residents to have. A power of attorney is a good example here. Not everyone thinks that a POA is a necessity and skip over it when going through the estate planning process, but it really can have its benefits.
A power of attorney is a document in which the principal picks a personal representative to handle certain affairs either now or in the event the principal becomes incapacitated. A general POA gives the representative the right to make all major decisions regarding one's assets and, possibly, health care treatments. A limited POA, on the other hand, gives the representative power to handle only the things listed in the POA document.
By signing a POA, it does not mean that one is giving up their right to make medical, financial and life decisions. It is just a form of protection. It allows a person to decide who is the best individual to take care of one's affairs. Without one, the courts may get to decide who one's personal representative should be.
Other things to note, an individual who is deemed legally incompetent cannot sign a POA. That person has to fully understand what it is that he or she is signing. Finally, the representative cannot do whatever he or she wants when the POA becomes active. There are limits to the power granted. The representative must act in the best interests of the principal.
New Jersey residents who are not sure if a power of attorney is something that they need can speak to an estate planning attorney to find out more information about these legal documents and if having one would be of benefit to their situation. Most people can benefit from having some sort of POA in their legal arsenal. At the end of the day, it is just another level of protection should something happen that prevents a person from being able to make important decisions for him or herself or be present to handle certain affairs.