In my opinion, the Power of Attorney is one of the most important documents you should have. This document allows someone named as your agent to act for you during incapacity. Since none of us know when incapacity will strike, it’s important to have this document well in advance of needing it. Once you need it, it’s often too late for us to get it done. If someone is incompetent we can’t legally create a Power of Attorney.
Without this important document, if you are injured or extremely ill and are unable to make your own legal and financial decisions, a court action known as Guardianship will be necessary. Guardianships are difficult and expensive. Having a Power of Attorney will prevent Guardianship and allow an agent of your choice to act for you without Court intervention.
The Law Change
Effective January 1st, 2018, the new North Carolina Power of Attorney Act went into effect. The new North Carolina Power of Attorney Act amends the old law and includes substantial changes which affect all North Carolina citizens of legal age.
The new Act addresses serious issues with the old law. In the past few years, I’ve seen the problems first-hand. We’ve had an increasingly difficult time getting some institutions to accept the Powers of Attorney. This problem was happening statewide. The new law will make it easier for the people and institutions relying on Powers of Attorney to accept them.
Another statewide problem was the misuse of power. People named as the agents on the Power of Attorney were in some instances helping themselves to the assets of those they were supposed to protect. This type of fraud and abuse of power was perpetrated against the most vulnerable amongst us. The new Act better addresses and prevents these problems.
Not all Powers of Attorney are created equal. The North Carolina form documents don’t do everything I feel is necessary to protect our clients. Our Power of Attorney contains more direction and detail than required by the new Act. Without the additional language I’ve added, family members who become ill may lose everything to end of life care. That’s unacceptable to me and I will do everything legally possible to make sure that my family and yours are able to protect what they have and qualify for benefits.
As of January 1st, 2018, our documents now include both the modifications necessitated by the new law and the modified asset protection language I wrote to you about in 2015.
Updating Your Documents
In 2015, many of you came in and made the changes I recommended. Now I’m asking you to change your documents once again. While I wish it wasn’t necessary to ever modify the work we’ve done in the past, that’s not realistic. While legally your old documents should still work, we are already finding that banks and other institutions are refusing to honor them and want the new Power of Attorney, so I’m urging you to make this change.