Granting power of attorney to someone you trust allows that person to take care of your legal, financial and medical affairs on your behalf. In New Jersey, a "durable" power of attorney lets another person take care of your affairs even if you become incapacitated.
The person given power to handle another person's affairs in a durable-power-of- attorney document is known as an attorney-in-fact or an agent in New Jersey. The person the attorney-in-fact may act for is known as the principal. A power of attorney is "durable" if it survives the principal's incapacitation, and "general" if it does not.
Creating a durable power of attorney has several benefits, according to the New Jersey attorney general. A written power-of-attorney document allows you to choose any competent person 18 years of age or older to be your agent if you cannot handle your own affairs. If you become incapacitated without an agent named, however, a court hearing may be required to assign someone to handle your personal affairs, and you will be unable to offer input about who that should be.
In order to be legal in New Jersey, a durable-power-of-attorney document should contain a statement that the power of attorney survives the incapacity of the principal or goes into effect once the principal is incapacitated. The document should also be signed by the principal, dated, and signed by at least two witnesses.
The witnesses to a principal signing his durable power of attorney in New Jersey must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind, or capable of understanding that they are watching you sign your durable POA document. In addition, your witnesses should not be family members, your medical team, or the attorney-in-fact named in your power-of-attorney document.