Durable Power of Attorney
An important estate planning tool is the general power of attorney. A general power of attorney allows an individiual to select an agent to act as their attorney-in-fact. The agent's powers can be very broad and therefore great care should be taken to select a trustworthy agent. Such power does come with limitations, as discussed below.
Unlike wills (which deal with management and disposal of property after death) and living wills and health care powers of attorney (which deal with health care decisions to be made during life), the general power of attorney handles how assets and property are taken care of during the life of the principal. The principal may limit some of these powers in their durable power of attorney document. Additionally, the agent has certain requirements they must by law abide by, such as a duty of loyalty to the principal. Ideally, the agent you name as your attorney-in-fact is someone you trust deeply, so you can provide broad powers to them.
Most likely, you will want to have a durable power of attorney in place that allows your agent to handle your assets when you are incapacitated. Certain language must be used in the power of attorney document to allow the agent this power.
As with other documents used in estate planning, you should consider reviewing and / or updating your power of attorney in set intervals or whenever a major life changing event occurs.
North Carolina discusses the power of attorney in N.C.G.S. Chapter 32A. To discuss your needs and whether you would like to name an attorney-in-fact, please don't hesitate to contact us.