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What You Should Know: Disputes and Power of Attorney

Long Term Care Planning

In New Jersey, a durable power of attorney allows you to give others the ability to make financial and business decisions on your behalf. This legal document can go into effect immediately and will remain in effect should you become incapacitated. You can also give specific authority to the person you choose, and this can include power over property, stock and bond, banking, and other transactions. You will need to choose someone you can trust, and you should also be prepared for the likelihood of disputes between family members challenging your choice.

While there are several types of powers of attorney, the durable power of attorney allows for someone, also called an agent, to make financial decisions for you when you are of sound mind, and in the event you become incapacitated. This power of attorney ends with your death.

It is a wise decision to have a durable power of attorney as you do not know when you may need it, and it protects against incapacity. The challenge is choosing the right person to manage your finances as this will provide that person with authority to handle your affairs. What is beneficial about the durable power of attorney is that once you designate someone to handle your affairs, should you become incapacitated, your family will not need to go to court to get someone appointed. Unfortunately, this might be someone you would not want to make important decisions on your behalf.

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Once you have chosen someone to act as an agent, you should be prepared for the possibility that family or friends will try to get you to revoke a power of attorney and choose someone else instead. This happens often, and in some cases, an individual will revoke the power of attorney to choose someone else who may not act in his or her best interests. As long as you are competent, you can revoke a power of attorney and select someone else. Be prepared for the situation where you are asked to do this and consider how you will respond. Often, having an attorney who represents your best interests can help you in making the best decision for you.

Choosing someone to act as an agent can lead to bad feelings and a lack of trust among siblings and other family members. Sometimes this decision causes friction and misery in the family. Having an open discussion can help family members adjust to your choice. For example, if you choose one of your children as the agent, others may worry they will not be able to see you, or they will be excluded from important decisions. The attorneys at Bratton Law Group can help you in navigating the complexities of handling disputes and preserving what matters—your choice of who will make decisions for you when you need it.

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