General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney, sometimes called a financial power of attorney, is a legal document that gives a person, of your choosing, the right to make decisions on your behalf. A power of attorney may be limited. For example, if you are unable to attend the closing on the sale of your home, you can give your spouse power of attorney to sign on your behalf. You may also set up a power of attorney to give a trusted person the right to make certain financial decisions or your behalf when you are incapacitated due to illness or are unreachable for an extended period. This can be valuable if you become incapacitated and someone must pay your bills.

A power of attorney can be limited to a single event or may be a “durable power of attorney” that remains in effect until it is revoked. You may make the Power of Attorney effective immediately or contingent upon an event or condition. For example, the Power of Attorney may go into effect only if two doctors declare in writing that you are mentally unfit to take care of your own affairs.

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Why would you give someone the right to make decisions on your behalf? Consider these examples:

  1. You have been diagnosed with dementia and are foresee that you will be unable to handle your affairs in the future. In this case, a power of attorney may make sense. A trusted individual you select will have the right to handle your financial affairs. This may include speaking with your creditors, paying your bills (and preventing your handing money over to con artists), or even handling the sale of your home if you downsize or enter an assisted living facility.
  2. You are out of town and you need someone to sign a deed for the sale or purchase of a house.
  3. You are going in for major surgery and need someone to handle your affairs while you are recuperating.

In these cases, the individual has designated a trusted individual as his/her representative. In cases where the individual does not have a legal power of attorney and is unable to make a decision, the courts may get involved and appoint someone as a guardian to represent the individual’s interests.

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Choose Your Personal Representative

The team at Averett Family Law strongly recommends you have appropriate powers of attorney in place to ensure you are the one choosing your personal representative. If you are in Chapel Hill, Pittsboro, Siler City, Hillsborough, or surrounding areas, schedule an appointment today with an estate planning attorney.

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