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North Carolina Estate Planning for Caregivers: 3 Important Documents

Posted on: December 6th, 2012
Long-term planning for ourselves and our aging relatives requires careful thought and important decisions, and it’s essential to have valid copies of necessary paperwork to ensure proper care. Chapel Hill elder law attorneys at TrustCounsel prepared a list of three key documents essential to any estate plan, particularly those that involve caregivers:
 
  1. How do I choose someone to make decisions about my health when I am not able?
    Create an Advance Health Care Directive, otherwise known as a Health Care Power of Attorney (“HCPOA”). The health care “agent” you designate in the HCPOA will be responsible for fulfilling your wishes regarding important healthcare decisions (in the event you become unable to make or communicate your own decisions). The agent represents the individual receiving care. You may register your HCPOA with the North Carolina Advance Health Care Directive Registry, which will accept copies of all authorizing documents with witness’ signatures. Decisions an agent may make: authorization of surgeries and medical testing, life support and life support termination, and any matter relating to the individual’s health. The agent has no authority in making financial decisions or distribution of property. An advance medical directive must be planned in advance when the individual is competent and alert.
     
  2. Who will take care of my finances if I can’t?
    Create a Durable Power of Attorney – Similar to how the agent named in a health care directive manages all medical decisions, the agent named in a Durable Power of Attorney is appointed to manage the individual’s financial matters. Responsibilities granted in a Durable Power of Attorney may include: investment decisions, collecting Social Security, maintaining or selling property, and ensuring taxes, insurance and everyday living expenses are paid.
     
  3. In North Carolina, who gets my property when I die?
    Establish a professionally-drafted Last Will and Testament - Do not rely on a do-it-yourself kit or Internet guidance to create a will. Preparing a valid will is critical for designating who gets your assets and property after your death, and also for appointing an Executor, the person you trust to manage your estate. While a will does not avoid probate the way a living trust would, TrustCounsel’s North Carolina estate planning attorneys have seen many families experience added and unnecessary stress in probate because their loved one did not have a professionally-prepared will.
 
Working with a North Carolina estate planning attorney to document your wishes for your estate and long-term care will help you and your loved ones avoid stress. Estate planning attorneys in our Chapel Hill firm work closely with you to develop an estate plan that outlines how your caregivers will manage your healthcare and finances should you become unable to manage them independently. Read our advice about discussing elder care with your loved ones. 
 
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