When New Jersey residents get older, they should strongly consider having powers of attorney created. Powers of attorney provide trusted individuals the ability to make financial choices for another person in their stead. Depending on how a document is drafted, a trusted individual, called the agent, may be able to pay someone's bills, sell their property or purchase food and other necessities for them.
Powers of attorney can be created so that they specifically outline what an agent can and cannot do. This is why many experts recommend that a person use a lawyer to create a power of attorney rather than fill out a form. These documents can be very important when a person is too sick to make these choices or handle these tasks. This is especially true since older individuals sometimes suffer from degraded mental faculties and may require someone they trust to be in charge of their finances.
Since an agent may have a significant amount of control over an individual's assets, it's important that principals name an agent that they fully trust. Experts sometimes recommend that people name two agents to reduce the burden on agents and to ensure that there are checks and balances on each agent.
Along with living wills, an attorney could also create other estate planning documents for an individual, such as trusts or a will. While a will allows people to determine who should have a person's property when they pass on, these assets are distributed immediately upon a person's death. Trusts give people more options for how to distribute property, allowing it to be meted out over time or once certain requirements are met, and trusts may also help an individual's heirs avoid probate.