From our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: New Jersey LGBT Power of Attorney Issues
Most Recently Updated July 10, 2018
“I am a New Jersey resident. Now that I have married my partner, I would like to give her a General Durable Power of Attorney, but am concerned about surrendering so much power over my assets. I have heard stories about spouses abusing Powers of Attorney. How can I protect myself?”
New Jersey LGBT Power of Attorney Issues
A general, durable power of attorney is a key part of any estate plan. A Will covers what happens to your assets if you have died, but the durable power of attorney is meant to cover the time when you are alive yet unable to handle your own financial affairs. The problem that exists, and of which you speak, is that if you give your Agent the power of attorney document, they have the power to withdraw from your bank accounts, sell real estate and gather your tax information.
How to Protect Yourself from an Agent Gone Bad
Sometimes spouses do use this power improperly. First, you can always name more than one person to act as agent. Co-agents can be obligated to work together, so you now have a team and they can keep an eye on one another. Second, most of my clients leave their power of attorney in my fireproof Will safes. If the client prepares written instructions for me, I can only release the power of attorney to the client or to the agent; but only to the agent if the client has become incapacitated.
This way if the agent calls my office, it is my obligation to investigate your status. If I confirm that you are in the hospital, incapacitated, I then release the document and your agent can act. If I find you at home comfortably watching television, then you are informed that your agent has been asking for your document but they have not been able to cause any harm.
More Planning Questions?
A Power of Attorney is only a piece of the Estate Planning process. By all means, if you want to learn more, please read my more detailed article, Estate Planning Everything You Need to Know.
In Conclusion: New Jersey LGBT Power of Attorney Issues
I hope that this article was helpful in explaining powers of attorney. Further, I included links to even more detailed information on my website so you can learn more. Therefore, please contact me and let me know how I did. Certainly, your comments and questions are welcome!
Let our Estate Planning lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. To begin with, call to speak to one of our experienced estate planning lawyers. By all means, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Ultimately our goal is to make the process as painless as possible!
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