New Jersey law provides for a power of attorney. This document allows an agent to act on behalf of the individual signing the power of attorney, also known as the grantor or principal. Whereas a standard power of attorney lapses if the principal becomes incapacitated, a durable power of attorney remains in effect. As the prospective agent, you may obtain a power of attorney by having a principal sign, date and notarize a simple form.
Obtain a New Jersey Power of Attorney form. Blank forms are available from your attorney or a legal-aid office, or from various legal web sites which allow you to fill in, download and print out the form. Make sure the form is appropriate for your particular situation. A durable power of attorney must have specific language that permits the agent to work on behalf of the principal in the event of the latter's incapacity and inability to make decisions or handle his own affairs. A contingent or "springing" power of attorney takes effect only if and when certain conditions arise -- such as the grantor's incapacity.
Fill in the name and address of the principal -- the person who is giving you authority as the agent -- and your own name and address.
Indicate what specific powers the principal will grant to you, or what actions you will be allowed to make on your principal's behalf. This may include real estate or financial transactions; representation in estate and trust matters; managing a business; handling disability or retirement benefits; or handling tax matters. Some power-of-attorney forms include a series of paragraphs with language covering specific areas, allowing you to simply initial or check the paragraphs that will apply.
Add any special provisions that apply to you as the agent. This may include the authority to delegate your responsibilities to another party, or the right to any compensation for your work. The power-of-attorney form may also include language appointing a successor agent in the event you, as the original agent, become incapacitated or otherwise unable to carry out your duties.
Bring the completed form to a notary public, and have your principal sign and date the form where indicated at the bottom. A notary public is an individual authorized to witness oaths and whose job is to verify your identity and the identity of the principal. You won't need to sign the form to make it effective.
Bring the power of attorney to the clerk of court in the county where the principal resides. Have the clerk enter the form into the public record and certify it with a date, signature and court seal. Although this step is not legally required, it does provide you with a certified document that has already been recognized as valid by the court.
- Blank Power of Attorney form
Tips & Warnings
As an alternative to having the form notarized, a power of attorney may be witnessed by two individuals.
If you are unsure of the language of a power of attorney form, and what authority it confers on you as the agent, have a qualified lawyer review the document.
Typically, only the principal may revoke a power of attorney. A court may provide for revocation if a third party can prove good cause for doing so.
If the principal also has a court-appointed guardian, by state law the agent is also accountable to the guardian as well as the principal.
New Jersey law holds that an agent cannot make health care decisions for a principal without specific advanced health-care directives signed by the principal.
References & Resources
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