If something happens to you, you want to ensure a responsible party makes legal, financial, or medical decisions on your behalf. One of the best ways to do this is by naming someone you trust as your power of attorney.
A Spindale power of attorney lawyer with Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, can help you organize your affairs. Our estate planning team can prepare and file legally binding documents that will protect you, your assets, and your beneficiaries.
Why Establish a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that names someone authorized to act on your behalf if you are mentally or physically incapacitated. It can also contain instructions regarding your medical care and other wishes. In the document, you are typically referred to as the principal, and the person granted POA is the agent.
While the circumstances necessitating a power of attorney are unpleasant to consider, getting your affairs in order before the unthinkable occurs can save your loved ones from having to make stressful decisions during an already difficult time. Our Spinadale power of attorney lawyers can ensure your POA clearly outlines your directives and is correctly prepared, signed, and filed.
Types of Power of Attorney
There are many types of POAs. Our lawyers can assist you with identifying and drafting the documents that fit your needs.
- General. A general POA grants an agent the right to take legal action on your behalf. You can dictate the scope of the agent’s authority, which may include opening and closing bank accounts, buying or selling stocks or property, or invoking/revoking contractual rights. However, POA laws vary from state to state and can limit an agent’s actions. For example, G.S. § 32C-1-103, outlined in the North Carolina Uniform Power of Attorney Act, states that a general POA cannot give an agent the right to make medical decisions for the principal or exercise their voting rights.
- Financial. A financial POA is similar to a general POA but restricts your agent to financial and business decisions rather than granting more broad legal authority. Again, you can specify the financial actions your agent must take if you are incapacitated.
- Medical. A medical POA gives the agent the right to make health care decisions for you if you cannot do so for yourself. You can dictate your wishes, such as whether or not you desire certain medical procedures or the use of certain life support measures.
- Special/temporary. A special POA gives the agent the right to act on your behalf in a specific situation, such as when buying or selling a house. A temporary POA allows the agent to act for a set amount of time, like if you are out of the country for an extended period.
When Does Power of Attorney Begin and End?
POA usually goes into effect when your lawyer files the documents with the courts. However, you can stipulate that POA is springing, which means the agent has authority only if the principal is physically or mentally unable to act for themselves.
According to G.S. § 32C-1-104, unless otherwise stated in the document, power of attorney in North Carolina is durable, meaning it continues until the principal dies or terminates or revokes the agreement. POA also ends when:
- The agent accomplishes the purpose of the POA.
- The agent resigns, becomes incapacitated, or dies, and the POA does not name another agent.
- The principal and the agent divorce (unless the POA states the agent should continue).
How to Choose a Power of Attorney
You will want to select an agent not for their financial expertise but for their integrity. You want your POA to be someone you trust to honor your wishes and protect your assets. For many people, this will be a family member, such as a spouse, adult child, or sibling. However, the law does not require the agent or principal to be related by blood or marriage.
In addition to trustworthiness and reliability, some things to consider when choosing a POA include:
- Location. Ideally, your agent should be someone who lives nearby. This allows them to act quickly when making medical decisions or dealing with time-sensitive financial or legal documents.
- Time. The person you select as your agent should be someone with enough time to devote to enacting the terms of your POA.
- Communication skills. Your agent may need to communicate with doctors, lawyers, bankers, and family members to carry out your directives. They may even need to go to court. Therefore, you want someone with strong communication skills who can keep everyone informed and act as your advocate when required. This can be especially important when making emotionally-charged medical decisions.
- Medical and financial knowledge. Your agent does not need to be a health care or banking expert, but it may help if they have some basic medical or financial knowledge. At a minimum, they should be able to process medical and financial information and ask important questions when necessary.
Do You Need a Power of Attorney Lawyer to Plan Your Estate?
You can use an online service or pre-prepared forms to establish a POA. However, working with our Spindale power or attorney lawyers allows you to craft a document that meets your individual needs. Our team can also draft and file your POA according to the law, ensuring it is binding. We can:
- Meet with you to determine your legal needs
- Handle all documents and fill out all necessary paperwork
- Change or revise existing POAs
- Answer your questions and keep you informed
- Assist with other estate-related issues, such as creating a will, helping with estate probate, or establishing a legal guardianship
Contact Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, for Help With Your POA
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and find out why our firm has been voted Best of Rutherford County since 2011. A team member can answer your questions, address your concerns, and tell you more about how our Spindale power of attorney lawyers can help plan your estate.