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McCurrie McCurrie
& McCurrie, L.L.C.

680 Kearny Avenue
Kearny, NJ 07032-3010
Phone: (201) 467-4180
Fax: (201) 997-9567
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Have you signed a power of attorney document?

While they may have heard the term many times, a lot of New Jersey residents don't know exactly what "power of attorney" means. When you create a power of attorney, you become known as the principal. By signing the power of attorney document, you give another person, known as the attorney-in-fact, the legal right to make financial decisions on your behalf. This person may also be referred to as a fiduciary or an agent.

Maybe you suffer an illness or injury that makes you incapable of handling your financial affairs. If you've signed the proper document that gives power of attorney to an attorney-in-fact, then there should be no confusion among family members or business partners about what should happen with your assets and debts while you are still living.

It goes without saying that the person chosen to be attorney-in-fact should be trustworthy, but it is also important to choose a person who is fluent in numbers and business matters. It isn't necessary that the attorney-in-fact be a lawyer, though attorneys do fill this role for individuals planning their estates.

In fact, a principal doesn't necessarily have to be incapacitated for an attorney-in-fact to handle some of the principal's business matters. For example, if a principal goes on vacation and won't be able to make an important transaction or pay bills, then the person with power of attorney can take care of those things.

Powers of attorney can be made durable, ensuring that the attorney-in-fact can continue making financial decisions in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated.

The proper legal steps have to be taken to ensure that a power of attorney is crafted for an individual's specific needs, and an estate planning attorney can help in that process.

Source: Daily News, "A power of attorney works on your behalf," Linda Dietz, Jan. 23, 2014

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