How to Obtain Power of Attorney in New Jersey

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

How to Obtain Power of Attorney in New Jersey

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

A power of attorney (POA) is a powerful legal document that grants someone, called the agent or attorney-in-fact, the authority to manage the affairs of another person, the principal. A common form of POA is a durable POA, which grants the agent broad power and remains in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated.

Young woman pointing to tablet that elderly woman is holding

To prevent fraudulent POAs, New Jersey has specific requirements for creating a valid POA. To create a general durable POA in New Jersey, follow these steps.

1. The principal selects an agent.

A principal can have one agent or multiple agents, and multiple agents are called co-agents. Co-agents serve at the same time, and the document can require them to act together or to act independently at the principal's election.

If the principal chooses only one agent, they should also decide on one or more successor agents. A successor agent is not a co-agent; instead, they become an agent only if the first-choice agent is unable or unwilling to serve.

It is imperative that each agent is someone the principal trusts, as agents can have a lot of power. They essentially step into the principal's shoes in certain circumstances and can make important decisions about money and property.

2. Both parties decide when the POA becomes effective.

New Jersey law allows a power of attorney to become effective immediately, to become effective for a specific event, or to become effective when the principal becomes incapacitated. Make this choice based on the principal's needs and goals.

3. The principal drafts the power of attorney document.

There is no single form or template for a power of attorney in New Jersey. However, there are some requirements for it to be valid.

The power of attorney must be in writing and signed in accordance with New Jersey law. For it to be durable, it must contain the phrase "this power of attorney shall not be affected by subsequent disability or incapacity of the principal, or lapse of time;" the phrase "this power of attorney shall become effective upon the disability or incapacity of the principal;" or a similar phrase that conveys the same message.

Each state has its own POA laws, so it is important to follow New Jersey laws and utilize New Jersey-specific forms—not those from another state. Today, this is easier than ever because you can use a reputable online service provider to draft a New Jersey-specific POA for you.

4. The principal signs the power of attorney.

The principal must sign the power of attorney document in front of either a notary public or an attorney licensed to practice in New Jersey. The principal should not sign the document until they are in the presence of the notary or attorney. After the principal signs, the notary or attorney signs the document.

New Jersey does not require separate witnesses, but having at least one person watch the principal sign and then sign as a witness is recommended. The witness should a disinterested party, not one of the agents or anyone who benefits directly from the POA.

These steps are for creating a general POA in New Jersey. If you want to create a narrow POA that only covers a specific transaction or want to create a health care POA, different laws and processes apply. Refer to an attorney or a reputable online service provider for more information.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.