A power of attorney, sometimes referred to simply as a POA, is a legal instrument that can grant a designated person the power to make decisions on behalf of someone else. There are different kinds of powers of attorney, however, and a person must make sure that they are filing the proper document in order to ensure that their document is legally binding.
You should make sure that your own power of attorney is customized to your unique circumstances. Do not take chances by printing off a form you found on the Internet that may be too ambiguous or no longer current with state standards.
Do you need help creating or modifying a power of attorney in North Carolina? You need to seek legal representation to make sure your document satisfies all legal requirements.
Teddy, Meekins & Talbert assists clients in Shelby and surrounding areas of North Carolina with civil matters including powers of attorney. Call us or contact us online to find out more about how we can help you.
North Carolina General Statute § 32C-1-102(9) defines a power of attorney as a “writing or other record that grants authority to an agent to act in the place of the principal, whether or not the term power of attorney is used.” Under North Carolina General Statute § 32C-1-102(11), the person granting authority in a power of attorney is a principal, and North Carolina General Statute § 32C-1-102(1) establishes that the person granted authority to act for a principal under a power of attorney is an agent or attorney-in-fact.
In January 2018, North Carolina adopted a version of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, a uniform law drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws that has been enacted by every state but Louisiana. Powers of attorney signed under the old law remain valid but may not offer all of the protections afforded under the new law.
Chapter 32C of the North Carolina General Statutes became the new North Carolina Uniform Power of Attorney Act, and Chapter 32A was repealed except for Articles 3 and 4. The new law was passed to address concerns about agents using a power of attorney to alter a principal’s estate plan. It had no effect on health care powers of attorney or consent to health care of minors.
A power of attorney can be general, temporary, or special (also known as limited). A general power of attorney allows the attorney-in-fact to make personal and business decisions. A temporary POA allows a person to act only in a limited time frame. A special or limited POA specifies the certain powers a person will have.
A durable power of attorney or enduring power of attorney is important because it allows the attorney-in-fact to make decisions on behalf of a person if they become incapacitated. A health care power of attorney will allow the agent to make medical decisions when a person is unconscious, mentally incompetent, or otherwise unable to make decisions.
A power of attorney can grant numerous kinds of authority to an attorney-in-fact. Financially, you can authorize an agent to sign paychecks, withdraw money, file tax returns, buy and sell property such as real estate or automobiles, purchase insurance, manage benefits, make decisions about stocks, and hire professionals for assistance.
Your power of attorney can also be a health care directive that establishes certain powers relating to your medical care in the event that you become incapacitated. The attorney-in-fact can admit or discharge you from a hospital, decide which treatments or medications you receive, and also decide who has access to your medical records.
Certain powers of attorney may also provide for compensation to the attorneys-in-fact. Any agreement for compensation should be clearly outlined in the power of attorney.
A power of attorney is by no means a limitless document when it comes to the powers being granted. A person cannot execute a will or perform a marriage through a power of attorney.
An attorney-in-fact also cannot transfer their powers to another party. A person has the right to decline an appointment as an agent, but they cannot attempt to pass those duties on to another party without the authorization of the principal.
The agent is also prohibited from violating their fiduciary duty to act in the principal’s best interest. This can become a major concern when the power of attorney is granted to a person who is not a family member or trusted friend of a principal.
You should always make sure that the person you are selecting to act as your agent will always be acting in your best interests. People with sizable bank accounts of valuable assets can be at greater risk of having their property mismanaged.
A power of attorney may be standing or springing. A standing power of attorney takes effect as soon as it is signed, but a springing power of attorney is designed to take effect only when a specific event occurs, such as the incapacitation of the principal.
A power of attorney only authorizes the attorney-in-fact to act during the principal’s lifetime. When the principal dies, they are no longer the legal owners of their property.
After death, the executor named in a person’s will becomes the party authorized to handle their financial matters. Many financial institutions will freeze the accounts of deceased individuals after they die, so attempts to use the power of attorney are usually denied.
If you are hoping to create or modify a power of attorney in North Carolina, do not try to handle the paperwork on your own. Relying on an off-the-shelf form could result in complications later on that are difficult and costly to correct.
Ralph W. Meekins is Board Certified in the area of Civil Trial Advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Let Teddy, Meekins & Talbert review your situation when you call us or contact us online.