Power of Attorney in Georgia

It is difficult to consider what will be done with your assets after you pass away. However, most people forget to consider that they may be unable to make their own decisions before they pass away.

Powers of attorney in Georgia are used to appoint someone to make legal decisions for you when you are unable to. Without them, your healthcare, business management, and financial decisions could be compromised. Either the courts will appoint someone you would not have chosen or you could risk opening yourself up to financial abuse.

Protect yourself when you’re vulnerable by creating a power of attorney in Georgia with a skilled lawyer. They will advise you on how to protect your assets and your healthcare wishes. With their help, you can rest easy knowing that you are protected if you are unable to act on your behalf.

Bridges-Farmer, LLC has been helping individuals like you plan for their future. Our experienced Powers of Attorney lawyers in Georgia will work with you to create a cohesive plan for your personal care and property if you are deemed unable to act. We ensure that your wishes are fulfilled if the powers are enacted, continuing to protect your rights long after you’ve signed the documents.

Don’t wait to create your power of attorney. It’s vital that the documents are in place before you need them. Call Bridges-Farmer, LLC today at (678) 395-7506 for a free consultation to start considering your future.

 

What is power of attorney?

A power of attorney, or POA as they are commonly known, is a document that names an individual or individual(s) as an agent to make decisions on the behalf of the principal individual who created the document when the principal is unable to make decisions on their own.

Powers of attorney are vital to ensure the protection of your assets and the execution of medical choices aligning with your wishes.

Some situations where you would need a power of attorney are:

  • If you are in an accident that leaves you unconscious or in a coma, but medical decisions need to be made immediately
  • You are suffering from dementia or Alzheimers and cannot manage your finances properly
  • You are a member of the military who travels frequently but some banking matters or government benefits need to be dealt with in your absence

To enact a power of attorney, it must be created before you are declared incompetent or unable to act for yourself. After this point, you will be deemed legally unfit to be creating and signing a legal document.

Unfortunately, many individuals don’t know to have a power of attorney in place before they need it. Those that do know assume it’s for older individuals or that they will have time later. The right time to get a power of attorney is now. You want to select your agent(s) when you are competent and can communicate your wishes to them. Have a plan in place to ensure that they act as you would.

Without a power of attorney, your wishes may not be enacted, either because people do not know your intentions or because the wrong agent(s) is/are appointed.

Agents for powers of attorney wield significant power over your life. They make decisions that can affect your finances, your health, your business, and even your personal assets. Would you want these decisions left in the hands of someone you don’t trust?

Powers of attorney are only valid during the lifetime of the principal. They may be invoked and revoked throughout their life, based on a determination of their competency. Once they die, the powers are superseded by their Will.

 

Types of Powers of Attorney in Georgia

There are four types of powers of attorney in Georgia. Work with a skilled probate lawyer in Georgia to determine which is best for your needs. Depending on whether you own a business, need a limited-time agent, or just need help handling your finances while you’re unable to do so, you will need a different type of POA.

The four types are:

General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney allows your agent to make a wide range of decisions concerning your assets and financial care. You will determine the agents, their powers, and their alternates in this document while you are competent.

In some cases, a general power of attorney can be used when you need assistance handling finances but you cannot attend to them yourself, even if you are not incapacitated. This is a form of non-durable power of attorney.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney can refer to most powers of attorney. It is a classification used when you are concerned about being incapacitated in the future. When you grant an agent durable power of attorney, they have the powers listed in the document from the point where you are deemed incapacitated until your death.

The agent must act in your best interest when making financial and medical decisions, essentially operating as an extension of yourself when you cannot make the decisions on your own behalf. You can rescind a durable POA if you are no longer incapacitated, such as if you were temporarily in a coma.

Special Power of Attorney

Special, or limited, power of attorney is a short-term option when you need someone to represent your interests for a specific period. They are often put in place when an individual needs assistance with one major task, such as closing a financial deal while they are out of the country. The agent will act as a proxy for the principal until the specified end date in the power of attorney document.

Springing Power of Attorney

Springing power of attorney comes into effect when you are incapacitated. You must be declared legally incompetent based on a determined “springing” condition. These are not used as often, as they can be extremely complicated and easily invalidated by the incapacitated person’s actions.

For example, if you have dementia but get examined on a “good day”, you may not be deemed incapacitated. People typically opt for springing powers of attorney to avoid giving power to someone until it is direly needed, which can be a sign that they do not trust their agents.

 

Call an Experienced Power of Attorney Lawyer in Georgia

In Georgia, a person can only be granted power of attorney by the principal in a signed legal document. According to Georgia Code sections 10-6-142 and 31-36-10, the legal document must contain specific language that names the parties involved, details what powers are passed, is signed by the principal, and is witnessed by two individuals.

An experienced power of attorney lawyer in Georgia will draft these documents for you to ensure that they are legally binding and include all potential scenarios where you would need your agent to act. They will advise you on what powers the individual agents need to have to best help you when you are unable to act on your behalf.

Bridges-Farmer, LLC knows the unexpected powers that your attorney will need to have, beyond determining your medical care and dealing with your bank. Our experienced lawyers will prepare you for the future, so you know that your rights are protected.

Contact us at (678) 395-7506 for a free consultation to start planning your powers of attorney today.

 

Who can gain power of attorney?

You can name one or multiple agents to gain power of attorney when you become incapable. Typically, individuals name single agents with alternates. Other times, people name joint or co-agents to act together in making decisions for your powers of attorney.

You can name anyone to be your power of attorney. However, it should not be something you choose lightly. Your agent will have enormous power over your life and finances.

Before you name someone as your power of attorney, consider the following:

  • Are they someone I trust to obey my wishes?
  • Are they a family member or someone with an emotional bond to me?
  • Will they be able to make difficult medical decisions when needed?
  • Are they capable of handling my finances and business dealings while I am unable?
  • Are they a legal resident of the United States?

Many clients of Bridges-Farmer, LLC opt to name family members as their power of attorney agents. These family members are people they trust, that know their wishes, and that can work with the rest of their family to mediate issues.

Spouses often name their partner as their primary agent, in large part because they will have shared assets and this is the closest bond in their lives. If their spouses cannot, principals may appoint adult children, their parents, close friends or business partners, or even their lawyer to act on their behalf.

Remember, you do not want to update your powers of attorney annually. If you are choosing someone to act on your behalf that is not a family member, it is wise to assign an agent that you have known for a long period of time and expect to remain in a good relationship with.

Clients may choose their lawyer if they do not believe that their family or friends have strong business acumen, that they could handle the difficult medical decisions, or that their family lives too far away. Your lawyer will always support your wishes when they are acting as an agent.

To discuss your options for agents for your power of attorney in Georgia, contact Bridges-Farmer, LCC today. We advise our clients on who to appoint, if they need additional alternates, and how to tell your agents your wishes.

 

What should I know about power of attorney in Georgia?

Although powers of attorney exist across the United States, it is important to be aware of your local restrictions.

In Georgia, powers of attorney are mandated under the Uniform Power of Attorney Act under the Official Code of Georgia. To be legally considered a POA, the document must:

  • Be signed by the principal
  • Be signed by one or more witnesses
  • Be signed by a notary public, who cannot also be a witness
  • All parties must be present when signing is occurring

The power of attorney will be put to use when the principal is deemed incapacitated. The law states that “incapacitated” means that the individual is unable to manage their property or finances due to:

  • An inability to communicate decisions or process information, as deemed by a physician; or
  • Being incarcerated, missing, or outside of the US and unable to return, as deemed by a lawyer.

If you have more questions about power of attorney in Georgia, contact a skilled lawyer at Bridges-Farmer, LLC.

 

How is competency determined in a GA power of attorney case?

Competency, as known as “of sound mind”, means that you are mentally capable of understanding the meaning and repercussions of signing a document. If you are incapable of understanding a document, you won’t know what you have agreed to.

Individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia are especially at risk of signing documents that they do not fully understand or that have effects that they cannot grasp.

To prevent individuals from being taken advantage of, a document cannot be legally binding if the signee was not mentally competent.

Competency is often debated amongst children or caregivers who disagree with the appointments in the powers of attorney or disagree with the decisions of the agent(s). They may use competency to argue that the appointments are not valid and should be changed, often in their own interests.

Competency is typically determined by the lawyer who drafts the powers of attorney. They will explain the process to the principal and ensure they understand what they are signing. If the principal is unclear or cannot process the information, the attorney may ask them questions to determine their competency.

If a lawyer believes that there will be a debate about competency in the future, especially if the family is known to argue about finances, they may seek a medical test to determine competency. Additionally, they will have witnesses sign that the individual appeared competent on the day of signing of the powers.

In cases where competency is challenged after the principal has become incapacitated, the determination must be made by a judge. The judge will consider the person’s mental state at the time of signing, ask those who knew the individual at the time of signing, and look at their medical history.

If the principal was incompetent at the time of signing, the powers are null and the agent’s decisions must be reversed. If the principal was competent, then the agent’s decisions stand.

Power of attorney lawyers are vital for determining competency and ensuring that your wishes are followed. Powers that are filed with an attorney, properly signed, and witnessed by individuals who can attest to your mental capacity are more likely to prove your mental competency.

A lawyer can prevent you from creating a power of attorney when you are incompetent by ensuring you pass the competency test before they draft the documents for you.

 

Why should I assign a power of attorney?

We never know what will happen in life. You may have an accident that could result in your incapacitation sooner than you realize.

While you’re unable to represent yourself, you want someone you trust to handle the most important aspects of your life: your health and your finances.

No one expects to be incapacitated or to become mentally unwell. That is why so many Americans don’t plan for the worst until it’s too late. They leave themselves open to costly conservatorship appointments in lieu of agents and in-fighting amongst their family. In some cases, their wishes may not be followed, losing them money or even their life.

Assigning a power of attorney is a necessary part of planning for the future. It will protect your rights, ensure a clear passage of power, and help prevent in-fighting in your family.

If you are still on the fence about assigning a power of attorney in Georgia, contact our experienced power of attorney lawyers at Bridges-Farmer, LLC today. They will help you understand why this document is so vital for your future and get you started on preparing your own.

 

What can a person legally do with powers of attorney?

Financial Powers

When you are incapacitated, your obligations don’t stop. You will continue to need to pay taxes and bills, maintain your bank account, and handle your investments. Business owners will also need to worry about the day-to-day operations of their company.

Appointing a power of attorney to handle your finances and property will ensure that these affairs are managed when you are unable to do so yourself.

Your agent under financial power of attorney will only be able to do what you expressly state in the document. For example, if you do not give them legal access to manage your bank accounts, then they will not be able to do so.

This is why powers of attorney are not a one-size-fits-all document: they must be customized for each principal’s unique needs to ensure that their assets are properly managed.

Some of the financial decisions that you can give your agent the power to handle are:

  • Filing taxes annually on behalf of the principal
  • Accessing the principal’s bank accounts to pay expenses that the principal needs to maintain their lifestyle
  • Investing the principal’s finances in line with the principal’s wishes
  • Managing and maintaining the principal’s property and other assets
  • Collecting the principal’s debts and paying them off, as possible
  • Applying for public benefits, such as Medicaid, for the principal
  • Making other financial decisions on the principal’s behalf

Medical Powers

If the principal is incapacitated due to an injury, someone needs to make decisions regarding their healthcare. Their agent for their advanced care directive will be responsible for making these decisions. In some cases, the agent will also be able to make financial decisions.

This agent has the medical powers of attorney to decide:

  • If the principal receives surgery or other hospital care
  • Arrange homecare, if required
  • Which doctors and/or care providers work with the principal
  • If/when the principal needs to move to a long-term care facility
  • The principal’s diet
  • Bathing schedules and nurses for this task
  • If the principal receives psychiatric care
  • If the principal would like life-saving measures taken, such as being kept on life support

An Agent Cannot

Agents are not all-powerful. Their powers are limited to those expressly stated in the powers of attorney. Some limitations include:

  • They cannot change a principal’s Will, as this is a separate, legally binding document.
  • Agents can’t make decisions after the death of the principal, as the powers of attorney are only effective while the principal is alive.
  • They cannot transfer the power to another individual. If they decline their appointment, an alternative agent will be named from the principal’s powers or by the courts.

 

Call a Georgia Probate Lawyer

Start preparing for your future today with the help of a Georgia probate lawyer. Our experienced team at Bridges-Farmer, LLC knows how challenging it is to plan for the worst-case scenario. We will help you navigate the process with compassion, carefully explaining each decision so you are comfortable with the powers you assign.

At Bridges-Farmer, LLC, we don’t just give you a template to sign. Every power of attorney is carefully crafted for each client’s unique needs. You can be sure that your powers of attorney will suit your needs when you work with us.

To book your consultation, call today at (678) 395-7506.