Do You Need to Translate Legal Documents into the Native Language of Non-English Speaking New Jersey Residents

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Estate Planning Attorney

An estate planning attorney friend of mine asked me what to do about a Healthcare Proxy and Power of Attorney for her client. The client does not speak English…only Chinese. The client would like to translate for her mother but will presumably be the healthcare agent and legal representative.

I was asked my opinion on what are the possible and best ways to handle this situation? Require a third party translator? Allow the daughter to translate? Use the son-in-law as a translator who will not be the healthcare agent? Any other creative options?

My reaction to these questions is that you need a third party translator. No one related to the agent should participate in translating the document. I would also add to the document “acknowledgement” and indication that the client was read the document by a third party translator, agreed to its terms and was explained the document terms to her in Chinese, and that she understands it.

In addition to the documents the family should also consider having the translator sign a certification that he or she accurately and completely translated the document for the client. The language should be similar to the oath that a translator takes for translating testimony in a deposition or court proceeding.

To discuss your NJ Estate Planning matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.