An injury or health condition can render you unable to communicate your healthcare wishes or take care of your financial affairs. When this happens, you need someone who can direct your medical care and finances on your behalf and in a manner that promotes your interests.
With a durable power of attorney, you can provide your loved ones with guidance and the ability to make legal decisions on your behalf while preventing others from taking advantage of your incapacity. This post looks at durable powers of attorney and the reasons for drawing up these documents while you are still in good health.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
A durable power of attorney is a legal document appointing someone else (your agent) to make legal decisions if you become mentally or physically incapacitated and unable to conduct your affairs.
As the principal, you can appoint any competent adult as your agent in your durable power of attorney. The agent doesn’t need to be an attorney.
For your durable power of attorney to be valid under North Carolina law, it must be properly executed and acknowledged. That means you need to sign it or direct someone to sign it in your presence on your behalf. In addition, you need to have a notary or other legally authorized specialist acknowledge the signature on the durable power of attorney documents as evidence of authenticity.
Direct Your Medical Care
A durable power of attorney for medical care outlines the healthcare wishes your agent needs to follow if an injury or health condition prevents you from speaking for yourself.
Your agent will communicate your healthcare directives to your doctors and other healthcare providers. The agent has the authority to carry out all your healthcare decisions, including the power to authorize discontinuing life-prolonging measures and the power to authorize the giving or withholding of mental health treatment.
Set Financial Directives
A durable power of attorney for finances authorizes an agent to carry out financial transactions and make legal decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself.
Examples of financial transactions your agent can conduct in terms of a durable power of attorney include depositing Social Security checks, filing tax returns, monitoring retirement accounts, or collecting rent.
When to Draw Up a Durable Power of Attorney
Life is unpredictable, and preparing for future uncertainties will ensure a favorable outcome for your loved ones.
Should you become incapacitated without a durable power of attorney, the court will appoint a guardian to oversee your finances.
By drawing up and validating a durable power of attorney, you ensure that someone you trust is in control of your assets. You also prevent a situation where your spouse or other close family member needs to go to court to gain control over your finances and healthcare.
Contact an Experienced North Carolina Estate Planning Attorney
At the Salines-Mondello Law Firm, we recommend a multi-faceted approach to enable families to protect their loved ones and preserve their legacy. Planning for healthcare and financial decision making is a critical part of the picture. If you want to establish a durable power of attorney that is valid under North Carolina law or take other steps to protect your future, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.