A power of attorney is a written document that authorizes another person (the “attorney-in-fact”) to act on behalf of an individual to deal with the grantor’s property and financial affairs during the grantor’s lifetime.

Such an instrument is important in the event the grantor becomes incapacitated, so that the attorney-in-fact can act in accordance with the terms of the document to access the grantor’s accounts, pay bills, collect checks, change investments, sell or buy property, and make gifts on behalf of the grantor. For example, if the grantor otherwise is required to access funds to pay for medical expenses, then this instrument permits the attorney-in-fact to act on behalf of the grantor to access such needed funds. Typically, the partner is designated as the attorney-in-fact.

The power of attorney can become effective either immediately upon execution or when the grantor becomes disabled. Unless the attorney-in-fact is also the grantor’s personal representative for purposes of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) or the power of attorney instrument includes an express waiver, he or she would not have access to private medical records. This is a problem that could be easily avoided.

Sandra Woolcock concentrates her practice in trusts and estates, wealth transfer, estate planning, estate administration and probate, guardianship, special needs and dispute resolution arising from complex New Jersey Wills. She seeks to maximize the goals of estate owners including limiting tax liability, avoiding or minimizing probate court involvement, and in anticipating and planning for issues affecting estate transfer.

Ms. Woolcock is also an experienced real estate lawyer representing both buyers and sellers in New Jersey. She has over seventeen years of experience as a practicing New Jersey lawyer. Prior to opening her office, she worked for one of the largest insurance companies in the United States where she was responsible for estate and tax planning, asset management and trust services.

Ms. Woolcock serves on the Planned Giving Board Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, Foundation Board House of Good Shepard and is a Trustee for the Warren County Bar Association.

Ms. Woolcock is a graduate of Seton Hall Law School.