What to Expect if Chosen to be a Power of Attorney

If you are ever chosen to be a power of attorney in New Jersey there are quite a few things you should know. This is an important responsibility that no one should take lightly. It’s possible that you won’t need to exercise your powers for a few years, hopefully many, but you should educate yourself on what you will have to do when the time comes so you are prepared. First and foremost, this is a legal document that allows you to act on behalf of the person who named you as power of attorney.

The Principal and the Agent

The two people involved in a power of attorney are known as the principal and the agent. The principal is the person who had the power of attorney created. The agent is the person who has been named as the power of attorney. As the agent you have legal duty towards the principal as well as duties that have been granted to you by the document.

The Features of a Power of Attorney

The main features of a power of attorney document are the powers that are granted to the agent by the principal. There are no set guidelines regarding powers that can be granted. It is entirely up to the principal, which is why no two powers of attorney are the same. The document might also include alternate agents. These are people who might have to serve as power of attorney if the initial agent is unable to do so. The principal could also set an expiration date on the power of attorney if it has been created for a specific reason, such as the sale or purchase of property.

The Duties of an Agent

The duties of an agent named in a power of attorney document will vary based on what the principal needs handled. The agent might be allowed to sign for a car loan or a mortgage. The agent might also be allowed to handle the banking for the principal. If the principal ever becomes incapacitated, the agent might be allowed to sit in front of the Internal Revenue Service as a representative for the principal. The principal could also ask the agent to make gifts on their behalf to charities or other entities of their choosing.

Legal Responsibilities of the Agent

The agent is legally required to act in the interest of the principal and not their own when carrying out actions for the principal. It is important for the agent to keep record of all actions taken on behalf of the principal in the event the principal or the court requests it. If the agent were to deviate from the wishes outlined in the power of attorney document the principal could seek legal action against the agent.

Are you in need of a power of attorney? Have you been named as a power of attorney? Trish Davis, Esquire can answer all of your questions and help you draft such an important document for your estate plan. Contact the office in Cinnaminson at 856-829-9204 today to schedule a consultation.