Life During COVID-19: The Importance of Designating a Power of Attorney

Written by Joanna R. Adu, Esq.

In Part III of our Life During COVID-19 series we will discuss the purpose of having a General Durable Power of Attorney and why it is so important that you (yes, you reading this right now) have one as part of your estate plan.

Circumstances like the current COVID-19/ Coronavirus pandemic are stark reminders of how critical and beneficial it is to have your estate plan in place should you suddenly become ill and incapacitated. Thus far in this crisis, the world has unfortunately witnessed thousands of people become ill with the Coronavirus to the extent that they quickly require hospitalization. Unfortunately, in circumstances like these, the rest of your life does not automatically stop because you have become ill. This is why it is extremely important to designate the person who can address all other areas of your life, which may include working with your mortgage lender or landlord, utility companies, credit card companies, banks, etc., when you are unable to do so.

A General Durable Power of Attorney is the document in which you name the person(s) authorized to essentially step into your shoes and act on your behalf with regard to the matters, and under the circumstances, outlined in that document. The designated person is commonly referred to as an agent or attorney-in-fact. The authority bestowed within your power of attorney may include authority to pay your bills, have access to your financial accounts, manage real property, run your business, receive income or other payments, and/or institute litigation, among a variety of other authorities and powers that should be tailored to your circumstances.

Because a power of attorney provides another person with a significant amount of authority to act on your behalf, choosing the right person is critical. The selected person, or persons, should be someone that you trust, is responsible, diligent, and detail-oriented, among a variety of other qualities that may be particularly important to you.

In creating your General Durable Power of Attorney, you may decide to have the power of attorney become effective immediately upon its execution; or, you may decide to have what is known as a “Springing” power of attorney. A springing power of attorney does not “spring” into effect until the specified number of health care professionals has found you to be incapacitated such that you are unable to handle your own affairs. There are pros and cons associated with each type of power of attorney and as such, it is important to review all considerations based on your circumstances with an experienced attorney.

The skilled and knowledgeable Bridgewater family law attorneys at Lyons & Associates, P.C. have extensive estate planning experience in addressing this particular issue. We invite you to contact us online or give us a call at our office at 908-575-9777 to schedule an appointment today. For your convenience we offer telephone consultations which allow you to speak with an experienced attorney about your estate planning needs from the comfort and security of your home.