5 On Your Side

5 On Your Side: Three legal documents we all need

Posted May 28, 2020 2:08 p.m. EDT
Updated May 28, 2020 7:26 p.m. EDT

— COVID-19 has increased the number of calls to attorneys who deal with estate planning.

5 On Your Side examined the importance of having the right documents heading into this process.

"We’re certainly getting a lot of questions about COVID-19," said attorney Becca Rushton, who specializes in estate planning.

Rushton said we should have three documents: a will, general power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney.

"The power of attorney documents can actually be more important than the will itself," said Rushton.

It gives someone you trust the ability to make medical or financial decisions for you, if you’re incapacitated. Rushton said make sure it’s someone you trust to carry out your wishes.

"They’re going to be financially responsible if they’re in charge of finances, or they’re going to be able to make tough medical decisions if they are your healthcare power of attorney," Rushton said.

If you don’t have the documents, someone will end up in court on your behalf to get permission to handle all of this, costing time and money. As for your estate, Rushton said you may not own a house, you may rent, but you do own items inside of your house-- like furniture or a car.

"You also have things like bank accounts and credit cards," said Rushton.

Printing legal documents online won’t always work as many require a notary and witnesses.

"I think the current COVID-19 situation highlights the need for those documents," Rushton said.

You can speak with an attorney about this and other legal advice. WRAL is teaming up with the NC Bar Foundation for a COVID-19 legal hotline. You can call on Friday, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at 919-891-9779.

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