What is a Power of Attorney?
A Georgia Power of Attorney (POA) is one of the three foundational estate planning documents that most adults in Georgia need in place, the other two being an Advance Directive for Healthcare and a Last Will and Testament. Essentially, a POA allows you to appoint an agent to act on your behalf and manage your financial affairs either out of convenience for you, or if you become incapacitated.
What does a POA do?
In the event of your incapacitation, or, if you so choose, at your convenience, a POA allows your agent to pay your bills, manage your bank and investment accounts, deal with your insurance companies, and care for your property on your behalf. If you grant broad powers, the agent would essentially be able to anything that you could do.
Why is a POA beneficial?
Should you reach a point where you cannot manage your finances due to dementia or another condition, a POA can be very effective to make sure your affairs are managed well. Furthermore, executing a POA ensures that you get to decide who will be able to step in and make decisions for you and your assets, giving you peace of mind that the right people will be acting on your behalf.
What happens if I don't have a POA?
Failing to have POA in place can create problems for your loved ones should you become incapacitated and unable to manage your finances, property and personal business affairs. If there is no valid POA, it is likely that a conservatorship proceeding would need to be commenced in the probate court. This process would seek to have a court find that you are incompetent and unable to act for yourself, and to have a conservator appointed to manage your finances, property and other personal business affairs. The conservatorship proceeding can be costly and time consuming, will result in continued oversight by the probate court, and may very likely put someone that you did not select in charge of oversight of your money and property.
Do I need to know anything else about POAs?
Georgia's POA laws changed significantly in July 2017, and the new laws are more favorable in ensuring that your wishes are followed and that your POA can be utilized properly. So, if you have a POA that was signed before July 1, 2017, it would be very wise for you to update your POA to take advantage of the new laws.