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New Jersey powers of attorney: Choosing a decision maker

During a person's lifetime, one of the most important estate planning documents is the power of attorney. These documents will ensure that a person's financial affairs are taken care of if that person becomes incapacitated. New Jersey Powers of attorney can be as general or specific as needed and who the maker chooses to make these decisions is paramount.

A married couple in which both parties are competent can be named on each other's durable power of attorney. If one party becomes incapacitated, the other can continue to make financial decisions and write checks on behalf of the marital household. To be sure that someone will have this power in the event that both parties become incapacitated, it could be beneficial to name an alternate person as well.

When there is no spouse, choosing someone to make financial decisions on that person's behalf can be more of a challenge. A "springing power of attorney" may give everyone involved peace of mind. This kind of power of attorney does not become effective until or unless a doctor declares the maker to be incapacitated or incompetent.

The kinds of actions that may be taken can also be limited. For instance, if a person doesn't want his or her child making investment decisions or selling the house, yet is okay with checks being written for bills, the power of attorney can specify these limitations. New Jersey Powers of attorney can be as flexible as other estate planning documents, and are just as important. Having one, or more if necessary, can give the whole family peace of mind that a loved one will be taken care of in the event he or she becomes incapacitated.

Source: MarketWatch, A guide to power of attorney for your parents, Harper Willis, Oct. 8, 2013

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