Why durable powers of attorney are important

New Jersey adults of all ages should think about having some basic estate planning documents in place. Even people who are in their 20s may benefit by drafting these documents because unexpected accidents or illnesses can occur. There are several types of estate planning tools that can offer protection in the event that people become incapacitated and are unable to make financial decisions for themselves either temporarily or permanently.

Durable powers of attorney may offer the type of protection that people might need if they are unable to make financial decisions for themselves. If people suffer a debilitating injury or illness and are unable to make those decisions, it can make things very difficult. Family members may be unable to access their accounts, pay bills and take care of other important tasks without durable powers of attorney.

When people draft springing powers of attorney, they grant trusted third parties the power to make financial decisions for them if triggering events happen. The designees are known as attorneys-in-fact. They will not have power unless the triggering events happen and the principals are no longer able to make important financial decisions. It is important that the people who are chosen to act as attorneys-in-fact are trustworthy to ensure that they will complete their duties in the best interests of the principals.

If people become incapacitated and do not have durable powers of attorney in place, the probate courts may appoint guardians to act on their behalf. These guardianships may be awarded to county or state employees rather than to family members. State-appointed guardians may charge substantial fees and make decisions with which the families do not agree. People may want to talk to estate planning attorneys about getting the appropriate documents drafted so that they and their families are protected.

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