You might think that an estate plan is all about what happens to your assets after you pass away. That is a major part of it. However, a well-made estate plan can protect you and your assets even while you are still alive.
In North Carolina, you can use your estate plan to give someone a “durable power of attorney” to act on your behalf. The power of attorney remains in effect if you become incapacitated or you are otherwise unable to handle things yourself. The person you give a durable power of attorney to essentially acts as your agent. This person should be someone you can trust to handle your affairs correctly.
What someone with durable power of attorney can do to help you
A person with durable power of attorney can be given the power to make certain decisions about the your financial and medical treatment matters. The specific powers to be given to your power of attorney must be set out in a legally binding document. An original copy of the durable power of attorney should be kept in your attorney’s office and with your important papers.
Who can be a power of attorney?
Your choice for durable power of attorney must be someone you trust and who will be available when the time comes. Beyond that, North Carolina law does not impose many restrictions on who can serve as a durable power of attorney. The person must be at least 18 years old and have the understanding and capacity to make and communicate healthcare decisions. Most people choose their spouse or adult child, but you can also designate another relative, close friend, or virtually any adult you want. The durable power of attorney must be signed in the presence of two witnesses and be acknowledged by a notary public.
Choosing someone to be your durable power of attorney if you ever need one, and following the legal procedures to designate them in your estate plan, can give you tremendous peace of mind. No matter what happens, you will still be in control of your affairs.