Hammonton Power of Attorney
Hammonton Power of Attorney
Many people struggle to manage their affairs as they age. They can no longer make medical decisions, pay bills, or sell real estate. Fortunately, anyone in Hammonton can create a power of attorney, which is a legal document authorizing another person to perform certain acts on their behalf.
Power of attorney documents is central to any comprehensive estate plan. Without them, your children might fight with each other over what medical care you receive when you get dementia, or there might be a power struggle over your bank account while you lay in a nursing home incapacitated. Reach out to Scott Counsel, P.C. today to create necessary power of attorney documents.
What You Can Accomplish with a Power of Attorney
A power of attorney (POA) is essentially an agency relationship between two people: the principal who drafts it and his or her attorney-in-fact also called an agent, who works on the principals’ behalf. The POA gives the attorney-in-fact certain legal powers, such as the power:
- To accept or deny medical care for a principal who lacks capacity
- To deposit checks or write checks on a bank account
- To invest assets on the principal’s behalf
- To sign contracts for the principal
- To sell real estate for the principal
We encourage meeting with a Hammonton lawyer to review your goals. A power of attorney also works in conjunction with a living will, where you can explicitly state what end-of-life medical treatments you want to receive, and it is helpful to draft both at the same time.
Types of Power of Attorney Documents
POAs differ substantially as to when they come into effect and when they end. There are four different types of POAs:
- General power of attorney. This type of POA goes immediately into effect and stays effective until the principal becomes incapacitated or dies. Typically, someone uses this POA when they want someone else to make financial decisions for them because they are too busy to care for the assets themselves. It is used rarely, though, because few people like to give up control unless it is necessary.
- Durable power of attorney. This type of POA also goes into effect immediately but continues even if the principal becomes incompetent. It ends when the principal dies. We typically use this POA when a client has received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and wants to get their affairs in order.
- Limited power of attorney. Limited POAs give the attorney-in-fact only certain powers in narrow situations and usually have an expiration date. Limited POAs are rarely used in elder law, though they remain an option if you need help with one narrow issue.
- Springing power of attorney. This POA does not immediately become effective. Instead, it “springs” into effect when some condition triggers it, such as a doctor’s declaration that the principal is incapacitated.
Drafting the wrong POA can leave you helpless when you need it most. For example, you might create a general power of attorney thinking it will be in effect if you get dementia. Should that day arrive, your general POA would stop being legally binding.
How an Attorney Helps with POAs
Some people look online and see “fill in the blank” power of attorney forms which they print off and fill out themselves. We don’t recommend doing this. It is too easy to make a mistake or to fail to create a valid POA in the first place. Instead, meet with an attorney to discuss your estate planning goals.
An attorney will help you understand which POA is best for you and what powers you want to give up. For example, you might be struggling to keep up with your financial affairs but still, wish to retain power over your healthcare decisions. Or you want something immediately in effect for peace of mind. We can discuss your options and help you choose among them.
Another key benefit of meeting with a lawyer is getting help with choosing the right attorney. This person will wield enormous power. Unfortunately, some people simply assume that their spouse or eldest child is the most natural pick. In reality, these could be terrible choices. For example, your eldest child could be living in a different state and not know what is going on. Your child could also have personal issues—such as financial distress—which increases the risk of misconduct. Someone with access to bank accounts could clean out the account if you are not careful.
Also, your spouse could be struggling with health issues and be too sick to effectively serve as your agent in the event of incapacity. An attorney can help a client think through the best possible choices for the role.
Amending a Power of Attorney
There are situations where you will want to revisit your POA and possibly change it. For example, if you were married and named your spouse as your agent, a divorce will revoke the designation. This means you will need to name another person as your attorney-in-fact, otherwise, you could become incapacitated with no valid POA in place.
Other situations include the death of your attorney-in-fact or their moving away. It is helpful to periodically review your entire estate plan, including your POA, to better align them with your goals.
Challenging a POA
If a parent or other loved one has a POA, you might have valid concerns about their agent’s conduct. Some agents take advantage of their power to enrich themselves or sell assets to other family members at a discount. They might be making choices based on what is best for them—not for the principal they represent. An attorney can discuss ways to legally challenge a POA and protect a loved one from exploitation.
Speak with Scott Counsel Today
A comprehensive estate plan allows our clients to live their lives with dignity—regardless of the medical challenges coming down the road. You are never too young to put a POA in place, and we encourage anyone concerned about a loved one to also discuss a POA with an attorney.
A Hammonton power of attorney lawyer at Scott Counsel can meet at any convenient time to discuss your situation. Call at your earliest convenience, at (856) 485-4585.
– When my son, who has Cystic Fibrosis and CF related diabetes, was suddenly and unexpectedly removed from his Medicaid program, we were devastated and frightened not knowing where we would get the resources to pay for his extremely high priced prescriptions. Justin was the attorney who handled our case. From the very beginning, he proved to be very thorough and experienced with navigating the process of reversing the Medicaid decision. However, it was his apparent kind, caring nature that made us feel the most at ease. Justin was successful in securing a continuation of benefits for my son, and we are extremely grateful for having his expertise during this most stressful ongoing process. Thank you, Justin!
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