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Financial power of attorney: not just for end-of-life matters

Every New Jersey resident over the age of 18 should make preparations for powers of attorney. However, according to a Caring.com survey the unfortunate truth is that only 53 percent of adults in the United States have a power of attorney in place. The good news is that for Americans over 72 years old, 83 percent have granted this authority. Then, why is the general number so low? That is because millennials lag behind, with just 41 percent creating a power of attorney.

One potential reason for this disparity is the commonly held belief that a power of attorney is only useful for the elderly. Because of this, many Americans wait until much later in life to have these documents drafted. By doing so, however, they expose themselves to risks that might have been easily mitigated by granting the appropriate authority via a power of attorney.

Perhaps, one of the most common instances where a power of attorney is useful for younger adults is in the case of a health emergency that leaves the patient incapacitated. This may be the result of a car accident or a sport injury. In this instance, doctors may be unwilling to disclose information with parents or other family members. Even worse, the family may not be allowed to make the difficult decisions that would preserve the life of the injured party, or that would be in line with his or her wishes.

According to Caring.com, powers of attorney are also useful for finances, particularly for the elderly. However, millennials who have acquired assets over the years may also find a finance power of attorney useful. Keep in mind that while incapacitated, health decisions are not the only ones a family member may need to make on their behalf. Utilities, mortgages or rent, phone bills and other regular financial expenses will need to be taken care of. The patient may have also been in the process of purchasing a home or completing payroll for employees at his or her business. A power of attorney ensures that those transactions may still be tended to with or without the individual’s assistance.

As millennials age, it is a reasonable expectation that a higher percentage will seek the protection of powers of attorney. Not only might this help to protect their investments, but it may also help to save their life in the case of an emergency.

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