Serving as an agent (or Attorney in Fact) with power of attorney in New Jersey is a decision that comes with great power and responsibility. The agent must act on the principal’s behalf and will be held to the highest standard of loyalty and duty under New Jersey law. For serving, agents are almost always authorized to receive some form of compensation. Exactly how much are agent with power of attorney fees in New Jersey? This is a question both principals and agents frequently ask.
In this relationship, the principal sets the terms. If the document has not been drafted, the principal can state the compensation (such as a specified hourly rate), provide a flexible term (such as “reasonable”), or specify that the agent is to receive no compensation at all. If the power of attorney in question has not been drafted, the above and many more compensation terms are possible with the help of an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney.
More often then not, people ask this question after the fact. If the power of attorney has been signed, the first place to look is the document. There is almost always a clause stating how the agent is to be compensated. In most cases, the principal provides for flexible compensation, such as “reasonable.” This provides the flexibility in the case the Agent has to do extraordinary work, such as managing all the principal’s affairs while in a coma, all the way to simple actions, such as paying the mortgage while the principal is traveling abroad.
In New Jersey, if the principal has not specifically stated the compensation, the agent is not entitled to a fee without the appropriate Court’s approval. The agent can apply for, and the court may award “reasonable” compensation-but is not required to do so. “Reasonable” is a difficult standard to nail down, as judges’ opinions differ based on county and circumstance. We will provide examples of what reasonable looks like as new opinions are published on our blog.
If you have questions about agent and power of attorney fees in New Jersey or any other estate planning concerns contact our office for a free consultation.