Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a cornerstone of the estate planning process. Without a durable power of attorney, things can get complicated if you become incapacitated. Loved ones could face a long legal ordeal with court petitions and hearings which delay management of your affairs.
When you work with an estate planning attorney to prepare legally binding power of attorney documents, you protect your rights and provide a means to continue financial business and medical treatment.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document authorizing someone to act as your agent. As an agent, this individual will have the authority to make decisions and conduct transactions on your behalf. The relationship between you and your agent is fiduciary in nature. This means that the agent with power of attorney must act in your best interest.
You can establish a financial power of attorney to give your agent authority to handle money matters, and a separate health care power of attorney authorizing a loved one to make medical decisions on your behalf.
A power of attorney is referred to as “durable” when it is structured to remain in effect if you become incapacitated. You can set up a “springing” durable power of attorney that only becomes effective if and when you become incapacitated. Or you can establish a power of attorney that is effective immediately. This would allow someone to assist you with managing money, signing contracts, and paying bills.
What are the Requirements for a Durable Power of Attorney?
In the state of North Carolina, both the principal granting the power of attorney and the agent must be at least 18 years old and have the ability to understand the authority granted in the document. Someone paid to provide medical care for the principal may not serve as the health care agent. A durable power of attorney document must be acknowledged by a notary to be valid.
What Kind of Authority Should I Grant a Durable Power of Attorney?
You may grant very broad authority to your agent, allowing them to do virtually anything you yourself are able to do. Or you could choose to limit the power however you see fit. A skilled estate planning attorney can explain the ramifications and carefully craft legal documents so that the authority is defined exactly as you wish.
Choosing an agent for a durable power attorney is a critical decision that will impact
your life and your estate. As the principal, however, you can limit the duration of a power of attorney, and you can revoke the privileges or change the agent at any time as long as you remain mentally competent.
Schedule a consultation with an Estate Planning Attorney to Protect Your Future
The decisions that you make during the estate planning process are critical to protect both your own future and the wellbeing of your loved ones. The compassionate elder care and estate planning attorneys of Brady Cobin Law Group, PLLC understand how to make the most of the opportunities afforded by North Carolina law and will prepare a plan tailored to your unique needs. Contact our office today to schedule a confidential consultation.