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How to Use a Power of Attorney in New Jersey

Posted on Thu Feb 5, 2015, on Power of Attorney

From our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: The New Jersey Power of Attorney

Most Recently Updated July 8, 2018.

“My Mother, who lives in Burlington County, New Jersey is having serious health problems. She wants me to be able to use her general power of attorney, but it says I need a doctor’s note saying that she is incapacitated. Is that normal?”

The New Jersey Power of Attorney

The New Jersey Power of Attorney

Your mother has a “Leaping” Power of Attorney, which at one time was the normal document that Burlington County Estate Planning Lawyers would prepare. A Leaping Power of Attorney gives the “Agent” the power to act for the person if — and only if — that person has become incapacitated and the Agent can secure a letter from the person’s doctor stating that the person is incapacitated. Without the letter the power of attorney is useless.

The Issue Concerning the Leaping POA

The problem with Leaping Powers of Attorney is that doctors, fearing lawsuits, are hesitant to sign letters declaring the person is incapacitated knowing that the letter will give power to the Agent to access the patient’s money.

In response to this issue, the normal document drafted by a Burlington County Estate Planning Lawyer today gives the Agent the power to act as soon as the document is signed. This does present the problem of when to give the Power of Attorney to the Agent. If you give the document to the Agent, the Agent could embezzle or steal assets, using the document illegally.

What Can We do For You?

At our firm, we offer the client the free service of holding the Power of Attorney in our safes, with written instructions that we are only to release the General Power of Attorney to the Agent if the Agent can prove to us that our client has become incapacitated. This way, the document is signed and ready to use, but the Agent cannot use the power of attorney to steal from the client. Proving incapacity is usually simple, as the client is often hospitalized by the time the Agent contacts us.

In your case, if your mother is still competent, I suggest that she consult with an Estate Planning Attorney. A new document should be created. 

More Planning Questions?

The 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: The New Jersey Power of Attorney

I hope that this article was helpful in explaining a power 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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Tags:

Burlington County, Estate Planning, Estate Planning Attorney, Estate Planning Lawyer, New Jersey, Power of Attorney

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