Like many in North Carolina, you may wonder what will happen to you and your belongings if you should become ill or incapacitated. This may be weighing more heavily on your mind if you are experiencing medical issues or a decline in your overall health. Perhaps you have even considered including a power of attorney document in your estate plan, but you have heard confusing information about POAs.
Before you dismiss this important option, you should take the time to learn as much as possible about its benefits. You may find that having a POA in your plan gives you more peace of mind once you clear up any misconceptions you may have.
Waiting too long
A power of attorney designates to a trusted individual, called an agent, the authority to act on your behalf concerning your finances and your estate. You may include a similar document for your health care needs. If you should become unable to manage your finances because of illness, injury or mental incapacity, your POA will step in and take care of things for you. This may include maintaining your investments, paying your bills and handling your assets.
The problem with waiting to designate a POA agent is that, once you reach the point where you need one, you may be unable to legally sign the POA documents. If your doctor certifies that you are mentally incapacitated, for example, because of Alzheimer's or another degenerative disease, it will be too late to execute any legal documents.
One of the most common reasons why people hesitate to sign a POA is because they fear they will lose control of their assets to the agent. This is a reasonable fear since the news is full of stories of those whose agents have taken advantage of them. However, by law, your agent may only act in ways that are in your best interests. Nevertheless, it behooves you to take extreme care in choosing your POA agent and establishing safeguards to keep him or her in check.
You may be able to reduce the chances that someone will challenge or misrepresent your POA if you avoid using a generic form from a website. Instead, a North Carolina attorney can help you draft a solid POA document that is appropriate for your situation and compliant with state regulations. Your attorney can also answer your many questions about the limitations and benefits of a power of attorney and guide you in choosing an agent who meets your goals.