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The Power of Attorney for Prisoners in North Carolina

An Effective Legal Solution to Protecting Inmates’ Affairs

Life is full of unforeseen events, and sometimes our loved ones make decisions that lead to negative consequences. Regardless of the circumstances that result in a loved one’s incarceration, there are ways to safeguard their personal property, finances, minor children, real estate, and other affairs while they serve their sentence.

Understanding the Significance of a Power of Attorney

via GIPHY

Before delving into the legalities of utilizing a Power of Attorney for inmates, it’s crucial to comprehend its purpose and benefits.

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that designates an agent to act on behalf of another person, authorizing them to make financial decisions and transactions in their absence.

In simpler terms, a Power of Attorney allows the appointment of an agent, who can be a spouse, close relative, or adult child, to manage the principal’s business affairs. It is vital to choose someone the principal trusts implicitly.

The chosen agent exercises decision-making powers within the guidelines outlined in the Power of Attorney. While North Carolina provides a Power of Attorney template, it’s worth noting that every situation is unique, and a generic form might not accurately establish the specific authorities intended to be granted to the agent.

Furthermore, these forms are legally binding and contain complex legal terminology that is best interpreted by an estate planning attorney.

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Without the guidance of a qualified attorney, understanding the granted powers can be challenging.

A Power of Attorney: Versatile and Tailor-Made

A Durable Power of Attorney ensures continuity even if the principal becomes incapacitated. Since the enactment of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act on January 1, 2018, all Powers of Attorney in North Carolina are durable by default, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Why Consulting an Attorney is Crucial

An attorney can offer accurate explanations of the different methods of drafting a Power of Attorney, discuss the principal’s options, and create a document that best aligns with their particular needs and timeline.

The principal may have concerns about their ability to revoke the Power of Attorney after its creation. It’s important to understand that an inmate may not wish to have an enduring Power of Attorney because they require someone to handle their affairs exclusively during their incarceration.

In such cases, an inmate may prefer a temporary Power of Attorney with specific limitations placed on the agent’s powers. Engaging with an estate planning attorney will help clarify the powers that can be established and restricted in the document.

Moreover, an attorney can alleviate any apprehensions an inmate has about granting their agent “unlimited power” over their affairs. They can provide information about actions an agent cannot undertake, such as designating another individual to assume their duties as an agent.

Securing Access to an Attorney While Incarcerated

via GIPHY Inmates have the right to reasonable access to an attorney, even if they are not the incarcerated individual’s criminal defense counsel.

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Each facility has its own rules regarding visitation, including those for estate planning attorneys. Those with incarcerated loved ones should contact the correctional facility to inquire about regulations surrounding visits from estate planning attorneys.

Once this information is obtained, it may be up to a family member or friend to locate and contact an attorney who provides visits to inmates specifically for estate planning purposes. Inmates are allowed visitation with an attorney to discuss the process of establishing a Power of Attorney and other relevant documents. Subsequently, the attorney can draft and prepare the necessary paperwork.

Execution of the Power of Attorney requires the presence of a notary public or another authorized individual who can administer oaths. Inmates should consult with their facility to make arrangements for a notary public or a similarly qualified individual. According to the State of North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s prison policy and procedure, notary services are available to inmates at reasonable times.

Although organizing the entire process might present some challenges, it can indeed be accomplished, providing inmates with peace of mind, knowing that their personal affairs are being managed during their time in confinement. Federal prisons also have laws permitting certain prison officials to acknowledge signatures and administer oaths.

Initiating the Power of Attorney Process While Incarcerated

The experienced attorneys at Hopler, Wilms, & Hanna, PLLC are well-versed in drafting Power of Attorney documents and have assisted numerous inmates in preparing and executing such legal instruments. If you or your loved one requires a Power of Attorney, do not hesitate to contact our office today for professional guidance and assistance.

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