A power of attorney is a written document by which a person, called the principal, authorizes another person, known as the attorney-in-fact, to perform specified acts as the principal's agent. In New Jersey, typically three types of power of attorney documents are used: general, limited and durable. In New Jersey, for a power of attorney document to be valid, the attorney-in-fact must be competent; the instrument must be signed, dated and notarized; and two witnesses must be prepared to attest that the principal is of sound mind and under no duress.
Designating a Power of Attorney in New Jersey
Retain an attorney experienced in estate matters. While this is not absolutely necessary, an attorney will be able to make sure that your power of attorney is legal in the state of New Jersey, review the language and wording of the document, offer legal advice regarding your choice of an agent and help assemble witnesses and a notary.
Use a power of attorney form that is acceptable in the state of New Jersey. Your attorney can draft a power of attorney form for you, or you can search for the forms on free sites online. Just make sure the one you pick is legal in New Jersey. If you have residences or property in states besides New Jersey, you will want power of attorney documents prepared to the specifications of the laws of those states as well.
Choose an agent, being certain that the person you pick will act on the directives in your power of attorney document. These directives commonly deal with the type of medical care you will accept, particularly life-sustaining care and whether or not you want artificial means to prolong your life. Some other directives your power of attorney should provide to your agent include where your assets are to be transferred should you become disabled, directions regarding dealing with the Internal Revenue Service, and the power to make financial decisions on your behalf.
Arrange for two people to act as witnesses when you sign your power of attorney document, or check to make sure that your attorney has made these arrangements. These persons must be able to state that you executed the document willingly, without pressure, and were fully aware of your actions at the time.
Sign your power of attorney document in the presence of a notary public of the state of New Jersey. Notary publics can be found at banks, law firms and hospitals, and their services are typically performed free or for a nominal fee.
General power of attorney instruments will authorize your agent to act on your behalf in a variety of situations, including financial matters. Limited directives are only valid in certain situations or for a specific amount of time. A durable power of attorney document can be used to appoint an attorney-in-fact to make decisions for you regarding healthcare.
Jan Hill is a certified paralegal. She has a bachelor's degree in English and journalism, and has been writing for more than 30 years. Her work has been published in a variety of venues, including "The Warrior," the official publication of Trial Lawyer's College, ExpertHub.com, and her local daily newspaper, "The Rapid City Journal."