The four documents everyone needs are a durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney, living will, and will. With a durable power of attorney, you appoint a trusted party to act for you during your lifetime concerning your assets and financial affairs even if you are incapacitated or incompetent. With a health care power of attorney, you appoint a trusted individual(s) (a “health care agent”) to make health decisions, release medical records, etc. for you during your lifetime if, as determined by a physician, you can’t make or communicate those decisions. Both of these documents help to avoid an extremely expensive court supervised management of your assets and/or your person (known as guardianship) when you are incapacitated or incompetent.
In a living will, you authorize your doctors to withhold/withdraw life prolonging measures if you cannot make or communicate your own health care decisions and you are in one of three conditions (e.g., you are in an incurable or irreversible condition that will result in your death within a relatively short period of time). In this document, you can give to or take away from your health care agent this life prolonging decision.
A will goes into effect after your death. With a will, you dispose of your real and personal property not effectively disposed of by other means (e.g., by other means includes beneficiary designation on a life insurance policy when that beneficiary survives you) thereby avoiding distribution of those assets by N.C. state law (intestacy). In a will, you appoint someone to manage the estate that runs through your will, pay debts of your estate, make tax elections, etc. In a will, you can also ensure that a minor or incapacitated beneficiary is provided for through a trust or that a minor is cared for by a guardian.
You should have these documents and other estate planning documents (e.g., separate trust) reviewed and/or prepared when, among other reasons, you have a change in family circumstances such as divorce or marriage, your spouse or child dies, a new child or grandchild is born, you move into or out of N.C., you have a change in the type or value of your assets, you sell or purchase a significant asset (e.g., business or land outside of N.C.) or tax law changes occur.
At Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A., we make every effort to help, plan for, and protect our clients. If we can help you create these four essential documents or update them due to a change in your life, then please contact us at (704) 844-1400.
Eran L. Weaver is an estate planning, estate administration and business attorney at Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. Contact Eran at Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. at (704) 844-1400. The information contained in this article is general in nature and not to be taken as legal advice, nor to establish an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Eran L. Weaver or the law firm of Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A.
Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. serves clients in North Carolina and South Carolina. Located in the town of Matthews between Mecklenburg and Union Counties in North Carolina since 1982, we proudly provide legal services throughout Charlotte, Matthews, Mint Hill, Stallings, Indian Trail, Monroe, Marvin, Wesley Chapel, Weddington, Waxhaw, the Ballantyne area, and other surrounding communities in the Greater Charlotte area. Our clients range from national corporations and major banking institutions to individuals and local companies.