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Beware misguided information regarding powers of attorney

Quite a few people in New Jersey right now are probably thinking about the future and wondering if the time has come for them to execute their estate plans. The estate planning process may be simple or complex and you don't even have to complete it all at once. It's a customizable process that you can change and update as needed. If you're thinking about your estate, particularly regarding designating a power of attorney to someone, you may want to fully research the topic first.

That's because you may be surprised at how much false information circulates where powers of attorney are concerned. How can you tell fact from fiction? One way is to discuss the topic with someone who has experience with it. Knowing where to seek guidance and support is also beneficial.

Here are some of the myths

In the meantime, you can refer to the following list that shares some of the most common misconceptions and falsehoods regarding powers of attorney:

  • It doesn't matter when someone signs a power of attorney.
  • There's a standardized form and you can print it off the internet.
  • If you grant someone power of attorney, he or she will be in charge of your whole estate.
  • The decision-making authority attached to this document continues to exist after you die.
  • There is only one kind of power of attorney.

None of the above statements has any truth to them. You may hear other supposed facts that are incorrect as well. This is why it's typically important to research everything ahead of time and make sure you clearly understand the important facts about powers of attorney before you navigate the process.

Here are some of the facts

The next list provides a corrected statement for every one of the myths mentioned in the previous list. Clarifying such issues before you execute a plan can help you avoid many potential problems down the line. Following, are the true statements that coincide with the aforementioned myths:

  • It matters very much when someone signs a power of attorney because it's crucial that he or she be of sound mind at the time.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all power of attorney form. You can get help to write a thorough document that includes any stipulations or specific instructions you deem appropriate.
  • The person to whom you grant power of attorney is not in charge of your estate. He or she gains decision-making power over your medical treatment or financial matters (or both) if you become unable to act on your own behalf.
  • Upon your death, any power of attorney you signed expires.
  • There are several types of powers of attorney, including a general power of attorney and a limited power of attorney.

One of the people who can help you prepare, review, and execute power of attorney documents is an experienced estate administration and probate attorney. This is always a good resource to have on hand moving forward as well, in case you want to make any changes or updates in the future.

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