Powers of Attorney Are Powerful Tools
Durable Financial Power of Attorney ▪ Advance Directive/Medical Proxy/Living Will
Wills and trusts can protect your assets after your death, but what if you become incapacitated during your lifetime? Who will make financial decisions for you? How will you make health care choices?
Durable financial powers of attorney and advance directives/medical proxies (living wills) are two estate planning vehicles through which you can make decisions today so that your financial and health care wishes are kept tomorrow. At The Manna Helmy Law Group, our attorneys help clients in Bergen County and beyond create estate plans that are suited to their individual circumstances.
Safeguarding Your Financial Future Through a Financial Power of Attorney
Of all the estate planning documents available, a durable financial power of attorney may be the most important. A will only distributes your assets after you have passed away. It will not grant anyone financial decision-making power should you become incapacitated through a stroke, car accident injury, head injury, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or any other serious cognitive impairment. In fact, if you were injured and could not make your own decisions, your loved one/family member would have to go to court — an expensive process — to become your guardian in order to be able to access your finances. This is a nightmare of lost time and thousands of dollars in avoidable legal fees and court costs.
There is a better option. A durable financial power of attorney is a document that allows you to give a person or multiple people the power to access your finances and sign significant financial documents for you. Through a financial power of attorney, the person or people you name can access your IRA, 401(k), sell your house, sign for you on a joint income tax return, do tax planning, protect your assets in the event you enter a nursing home and more. Without it, only a guardian could do these things.
Why Should You Hire a Lawyer To Help With Your Power of Attorney?
Unfortunately, most lawyers think a New Jersey durable financial power of attorney or a New York durable financial power of attorney is something that you can pull off the shelf and sign. Michael A. Manna is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and, as a result, understands complex elder law and estate planning issues. You may not be able to take certain actions unless they are specifically authorized in the power of attorney. Nearly 95 percent of powers of attorney have this deficiency and need to be redone.
Questions our law firm will ask you include: Should the person you choose be able to give away your assets in order to accelerate your eligibility for Medicaid or save taxes? Is there a gifting provision in your power of attorney that allows this? Are there any special circumstances that should be included in the financial power of attorney?
Advance Directive/Medical Proxy (Living Will)
An advance directive/medical proxy, also known as a living will, allows you to name someone to make health care decisions for you should you become incapable of making them on your own. It also allows you to dictate whether or not you should be removed from life support if you become terminally ill (permanently unconscious or inflicted with an irreversible degenerative illness).
New Jersey has a prescribed form for advance directive medical proxies. However, we encourage clients to speak with our attorneys and develop an individual form geared toward their specific wishes.
For Help With Living Wills, Contact Our Attorneys
To learn more about living wills, powers of attorney and other crucial documents that should be part of a comprehensive estate plan, speak with us. Contact our Ridgewood estate planning lawyers online or call 201-345-3018 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your situation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey and New York.