While you do not necessarily “need” a Power of Attorney, a Power of Attorney is an incredibly powerful and important part of every estate plan. It is true– you may never become incapacitated or need assistance in managing your affairs. If you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage your affairs and you have not executed a Power of Attorney, however, your loved ones will have to bring a Guardianship action with the Courts to obtain the legal authority to manage your affairs and make financial and medical decisions on your behalf. A Guardianship action is very expensive and invasive, both financially and emotionally, and opens your affairs up for the Court’s opinion. You will be evaluated by two doctors, the Court will appoint an attorney to represent your interests, and your family will likely hire an attorney to assist them in bringing the action. The person or persons you would want to manage your affairs may very well not be the ones selected by the Court.
With a properly drafted and executed Power of Attorney, you have the control to decide who will manage your affairs. Unlike a Guardianship action, a Power of Attorney generally grants your chosen agent the authority to act on your behalf without stripping you of your rights. In addition, a Power of Attorney can be enacted almost immediately, whereas a Guardianship requires sometimes lengthy and contentious court proceedings before anyone is granted the authority to act on your behalf– and your affairs may go unmanaged while your loved ones work their way through the process.
Whether or not you will ever require a Power of Attorney during your lifetime is an unknown. If you fail to execute a Power of Attorney, however, and you become incapacitated, you and your loved ones may be subjected to a great deal of financial and emotional stress, all of which could have been avoided with a properly drafted and executed Power of Attorney.
NOTE: This page is for general information only and is not be solely relied upon. If you have questions about your estate plan, please call a Toms River estate planning attorney today!