When someone else creates a power of attorney document and names you as the agent, you need to read through the document in full to understand your role. Not all powers of attorney are created equal, and having a clear understanding before you’re call into action will make the entire process easier.
Most powers of attorney become active in a specific situation: the creator of the document is incapacitated. However, someone can also give you power of attorney immediately, such as an adult with a disability or an elderly loved one who needs help right away with their finances. It’s critical to understand which of these applies in your situation, since it will determine the time and circumstances under which you have authority.
For a power of attorney that only becomes active when the creator is unable to speak for themselves and they are still in good health, this doesn’t give you the power to make decisions or handle transactions on their behalf.
Another reason to carefully read through the power of attorney is that the document might include general or specific powers. This determines the role you’ll play, and in either situation, you want to be sure you’re clear about this role and are comfortable with what it means.
A general power of attorney gives you broad authority to act on behalf of the agent. So long as you have this validly executed POA document, you can use it to carry out business and manage their affairs. Where possible, the creator should walk you through what they hoped you would use it for so you’re clear on the scope. With specific powers, this might allow only a very specific action. For example, your CPA might hold a POA to speak with the IRS about your taxes or you might appoint your realtor POA to sign closing documents for you when you sell a house. This means that the agent has very specific and limited powers.
If you want to create a power of attorney for any reason, contact an experienced New Jersey estate planning lawyer today to learn more about what this process entails. Contact our office now for help!