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The Plain English Attorney

A Power of Attorney for finances allows you to legally appoint and empower someone else to handle certain matters on your behalf.

The extent of these powers is entirely up to you, but many couples choose to have all financial powers authorized.

A Financial Power of Attorney in North Carolina allows a person to handle one, some or all of the following on your behalf:

• Real property transactions (land and home)
• Personal property transactions
• Bond, share and commodity transactions
• Banking transactions
• Safe deposit transactions
• Business operating transactions
• Insurance transactions
• Estate transactions
• Personal relationships and affairs
• Social Security and unemployment transactions
• Military benefits transactions
• Tax matters
• Employment of agents (hiring people to work on your behalf)

In addition, the powers you give another person can be effective immediately, after incapacity, or both. A Power of Attorney that is activated upon you becoming incapacitated is sometimes called a Springing Power of Attorney because it “springs” into effect, and Power of Attorney that remains active throughout your life is sometimes referred to as a Durable Power of Attorney. Most of our clients have a “General Durable Power of Attorney.”

While it is important to state what a Power of Attorney does, it is also important to dispel a few of the myths regarding its use.

  1. First, a Power of Attorney is not active after a person’s death. State law provides that a Power of Attorney expires upon death.
  2. Second, a Power of Attorney is not irreversible. You can cancel a Power of Attorney at any time by putting this wish in writing, having it notarized, and filing the document in the Register of Deeds office in which the Power of Attorney could be used.
  3. Third, a person can pick and choose among the various powers listed above and can even tailor the power to fit a particular need. There is no need to give someone complete power over your financial situation when all you want to do is allow a person to make withdrawals for you at a bank.

Although a Power of Attorney is reversible and there is no requirement to give complete authority to a person, use of a Power of Attorney for finances should be considered carefully before anything is signed.

If you have any questions or are interested in a Financial Power of Attorney and other estate planning needs, then contact our office at (919) 844-7993.

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