A lot of people in the Greensboro, North Carolina area have heard the term “power of attorney” but do not really know what it is. To put it simply, a power of attorney is a legal document that gives you the ability to grant someone else the legal authority to make decisions for you. Whether you want that person to act in a limited fashion, have broad decision-making abilities, or only act after you have become incapacitated, powers of attorney are essential pieces of every incapacity plan. If you are wondering if you need a power of attorney, or need to begin incapacity planning, the answer is, quite simply, yes.
Power of Attorney and You
Every capable adult in the state of North Carolina should have at least one power of attorney. These documents have to meet specific requirements under North Carolina law. As long as they meet those requirements, you can use your power of attorney in almost any way you wish.
When you create a power of attorney you select a person to act as your agent. This person, or sometimes an organization, is known as your attorney-in-fact. The attorney-in-fact has the legal responsibility to do what is in your best interest. The decision-making authority you choose to grant your attorney-in-fact must be stated in detail in the power of attorney document. The attorney-in-fact will have the ability to make any decisions you allow, but cannot exceed that authority without facing significant legal consequences.
The only people who can create a power of attorney in North Carolina are adults who have sufficient mental capacity to make knowledgeable choices. Children cannot make a power of attorney, nor can an adult who has lost the ability to make decisions. However, because most adults have the requisite mental capacity, almost everyone can create a power of attorney.
Ability and Need
Why do you need a power of attorney? This is one of the most commonly asked questions estate planning attorneys hear from their clients. Luckily, it’s also very easy to answer.
Let’s say you are capable of managing all of your affairs. You don’t believe you need assistance, and you don’t feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities. Even if this is the case, you still need a power of attorney because you might one day become incapacitated.
Should you be involved in an accident, suffer a debilitating illness, or somehow lose your ability to make choices, you will need a power of attorney in place to give someone the ability to step in to manage your affairs for you. Without such a document you could leave it up to a court to decide who will represent you and your interests.