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How to Make a Power of Attorney in North Carolina FAQ

Written by: Catherine Hodder, Esq. , Senior Legal Writer
Reviewed by: Jordan Walker, J.D. , Legal Writer
Last updated May 17, 2024

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A power of attorney provides you peace of mind and a backup when you are unable to manage your financial affairs. Find out how a power of attorney is helpful and get answers to frequently asked questions about how to create a valid power of attorney in the state of North Carolina.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A financial power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows a person, known as the principal, to appoint another person, known as the agent, to act on their behalf in financial and legal matters. It is convenient if you travel frequently and critical if you have a sudden mental or physical impairment and can’t handle your financial matters. A health care power of attorney allows a principal to appoint an agent for healthcare decisions.

If you suddenly become incapacitated and cannot manage your finances, your family members will have to file an action for conservatorship, and a court will determine who will be in charge of your financial decisions. This person is called a conservator.

Who Can Be My Agent?

Your agent can be someone who is 18 or older and mentally competent. Name a family member, friend, attorney, accountant, or a bank or authorized corporation. Consider your agent choice carefully because they are responsible for your property and assets. Avoid naming co-agents because they can disagree if acting jointly or contradict each other if acting independently. It is better to name a primary agent and a backup or successor agent if your primary agent is unable to serve.

What Can My Agent Do in North Carolina?

You decide your agent’s powers in your power of attorney. They can pay bills, access bank accounts, file tax returns, and manage property. In North Carolina, the subject matters you can authorize your agent to handle are the following:

  • Real Property (Real Estate)
  • Tangible Personal Property (Possessions)
  • Stocks and Bonds
  • Commodities and Options
  • Banks and Other Financial Institutions
  • Operation of Entity or Business
  • Insurance and Annuities
  • Estates, Trusts, and Other Beneficial Interests
  • Claims and Litigation
  • Personal and Family Maintenance
  • Benefits from Governmental Programs or Civil or Military Service
  • Retirement Plans
  • Taxes

There are other powers, called specific authority, that you can only grant by initialing next to those powers. The reason is that these powers may allow your agent to draw down your assets. You may want to grant these powers if you want your agent to reduce your estate to minimize estate taxes or to qualify you for government benefit programs such as Medicaid. Other specific authority includes the power to:

  • Make a gift from your assets
  • Create or change rights of survivorship
  • Create or change a beneficiary designation
  • Authorize another person to exercise the authority granted under your power of attorney
  • Waive your right to be a beneficiary of a joint and survivor annuity, including a survivor benefit under a retirement plan
  • Exercise fiduciary powers that you have authority to delegate
  • Disclaim or refuse an interest in property, including a power of appointment
  • Access the content of your electronic communications

Consider the powers you want to grant your agent because they are quite literally in charge of your money and your life.

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney in North Carolina?

durable power of attorney is a power of attorney that remains effective even when the principal becomes incapacitated. A power of attorney in North Carolina is presumed to be durable unless it is specifically stated in the document that the power of attorney terminates upon the principal’s incapacity.

When Is the Power of Attorney Effective?

It depends on the type of your power of attorney. A POA generally becomes effective immediately upon execution unless you, as the principal, specify in your document that it should become effective at a future date, upon a certain event, or under a contingency, such as your incapacity. The POA becomes effective once that date, event, or contingency occurs. This is called a “springing” power of attorney.

When Does the Power of Attorney End?

A principal can revoke their power of attorney at any time if they are mentally competent. There are other events when the power of attorney terminates, such as:

  • When the principal dies
  • When the principal is incapacitated, and it is not a durable power of attorney
  • When the agent dies, and there is no backup or successor agent
  • When the agent is unable to serve, and there is no backup or successor agent
  • The power of attorney is for a specific purpose, and that purpose is accomplished
  • When there is a termination date or event, and the date or event occurs
  • If your agent is your spouse and your divorce or your marriage terminates, your agent’s authority automatically revokes unless you state otherwise in your power of attorney document that you want their authority to continue.

Does North Carolina Have a Statutory Power of Attorney?

Yes. Under §32C-3-301 of the North Carolina General Statutes, there is a statutory power of attorney form. However, this POA form has its limitations. There are other options for a North Carolina POA: create your own power of attorney customized to your needs or hire an estate planning attorney.

Can I Make My Own Power of Attorney in North Carolina?

Yes. If you know who you want as your agent and what powers you want to authorize, you can make your own power of attorney. Many people looking for do-it-yourself solutions use online legal forms. However, make sure they are state-specific forms complying with North Carolina laws and that you can tailor them to your needs. If you have questions about your power of attorney, consider consulting an estate planning attorney for legal advice.

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How Do I Make My Power of Attorney Valid in North Carolina?

To make a power of attorney valid in North Carolina, the principal must sign the document or direct someone else to sign in their presence, which a notary public must acknowledge.

Do I Have to Notarize My Power of Attorney in North Carolina?

Yes. Under North Carolina law §32C-1-105, the principal must sign their power of attorney before a notary for power of attorney to be valid.

What Should I Do After Signing My Power of Attorney?

Once you have a valid power of attorney, give copies to your agent, successor agents, and any third parties, such as your bank, that you want to have it. Third parties may require an agent certification form where the agent must attest that the power of attorney is effective, and they have the authority to serve as your agent.

Does a Power of Attorney Agent Get Paid in North Carolina?

An agent may receive reasonable compensation for their services, which you can specify in your POA document. Otherwise, it is determined by the clerk of the superior court. If you do not provide for your agent to receive reimbursement for expenses incurred on your behalf, your agent can request reimbursement from the clerk.

Is My North Carolina Power of Attorney Valid in Another State?

Yes. Generally, a North Carolina power of attorney created and executed according to the North Carolina state law will be accepted in another state.

Can I Revoke My North Carolina Power of Attorney?

Yes. As long as you are competent (have a sound mind), you may revoke your power of attorney at any time by creating a “Revocation of Power of Attorney.” In this revocation, you should reference the original power of attorney, the date of execution, and the agent’s names with a statement that you intend to revoke this power of attorney. Deliver the revocation statement to your agent, successor agents, and third parties who received the original POA.

What Estate Planning Documents Should I Have in North Carolina?

A power of attorney is helpful when you need someone to handle your financial matters and avoids needing a conservatorship if you are suddenly incapacitated. There are other documents to consider for a comprehensive estate plan: a health care power of attorney and a last will and testament.

health care power of attorney, also called a medical power of attorney, advance directive, or living will, is a document where you designate a health care agent to make medical decisions and follow your wishes for medical care. You can also include instructions on what life-sustaining measures you want or do not want when you have an end-stage illness or terminal condition. Having a health care power of attorney lets your loved ones know your wishes and takes the burden off them by knowing what you want.

In a last will and testament, you name someone to handle your estate, called a personal representative, name beneficiaries of your property, and appoint guardians to care for your young children and pets. If you don’t make a will, the state makes one for you by following intestacy laws, and you may not like the result. By creating your will, you control your estate, streamline the probate process, and save your family members and loved ones time and money in court.

Fortunately, making a valid power of attorney and creating other North Carolina estate planning documents is easy with online estate planning templates.

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