A Power of Attorney (POA) is a document that allows an entrusted person (commonly a relative, friend, or legal professional) to make decisions and act on your behalf. They range from a single specific use POA (for a one-time transaction while you cannot attend), all the way to someone who has the power over medical or financial decisions for you should you become incapacitated.
What Types of Power of Attorneys are Allowed in Georgia?
In Georgia, two main types of Power of Attorneys are typically included in a thorough estate plan.
For health care decisions, an Advance Directive for Health Care is the most common type of POA. It allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should you not be able to. It also includes instructions related to your end of life care. It is very beneficial for everyone to have an Advance Directive for Health Care, regardless of their current health or age. The unexpected can be challenging to plan for, but having someone appointed to help make medical decisions based on your wishes can give you and your family peace of mind.
For financial decisions, a General Durable Power of Attorney is the most common type of POA. It allows someone to make financial and business decisions on your behalf should you not be able to. This can be very helpful should the unexpected occur, and your economic issues are on the line or at risk of being transferred/taken.
What is a Limited or Special POA in Georgia?
A Limited or Special POA allows the creator to thoroughly define the scope of power that the entrusted person has, whether for a limited time or limited responsibilities. These powers can be granted as you need them and for a specific situation but not permit the named Agent to have power over all other aspects of your life.
For example, should you be temporarily incapacitated due to medical issues, you could create a Special or Limited POA that can be entrusted to handle your affairs until you are recovered and able to take over.
You can specify an exact range of dates and specific tasks to be carried out. This allows you to ensure things are taken care of while you need to be absent or are otherwise unable to perform those tasks, but the reassurance that the rest of your decisions or assets are untouched.
What are Examples of Limitations on POA?
Suppose you must undergo significant surgery and remain in the hospital during rehabilitative efforts. You, as the principal, can assign specific duties during this time to a trusted person in your life, the agent. They can help with bills by writing checks on your behalf, facilitating changes in your financial portfolio such as stocks/bonds, filing taxes on your behalf, and more.
With specific limitations in the POA document, this doesn’t allow the agent complete access to your accounts or assets, but it will enable them to access certain things they need to complete the tasks you asked for.
In another example, let’s say you have a house up for sale, you experience a heart attack, and you cannot consistently meet with the realtor or possible buyers. You could set up a limited POA to handle that transaction. You can set up a specific amount of time that they cover these tasks (ex: through December of this year) and exactly what tasks you are allowing/expecting them to take care of for you while you recover.
Who Should My Limited POA Be?
One of the great benefits of a limited POA is that you can designate one or more people to assist you with specific tasks should the need arise. This means you can select one person for particular duties or at an exact time and another entrusted individual to help with another task. Creating more than one limited POA allows you room for discretion when you need it the most.
As with any POA, you will want to have explicit trust with this person or persons and extreme confidence in their ability to carry out your wishes exactly as you expect them to, even under pressure.
Can I Revoke a POA?
You are almost always able to revoke a POA at your will. This gives added peace of mind to those that want to try and be prepared but aren’t sure what the future holds. As needs change in your life, you can choose to revoke a POA should you no longer want that person in charge of the tasks at hand or should something happen with your POA that makes you less confident in their abilities and, therefore, want to revoke their duties.
Do I Need an Attorney to Create a POA?
It is not required to hire an attorney to create a POA. When an experienced attorney can be invaluable, though, it is when you are unsure of what to include or how to proceed. Suppose you or your family don’t have a POA or an accurate, all-encompassing one. In that case, it can leave room for stress, confusion, questions about your specific wishes, and more when your family is already facing some emotional distress.
Working with a trusted professional allows you peace of mind knowing that you have planned for as much as you can and have allowed your family to have fewer questions when the time comes. Contact our office at (770) 889-3911 for more information.