Power of Attorney Lawyer in Georgia Helping You Prepare for the Future
No one likes to think about a time when they may not be able to make decisions for themselves, but the truth is that this does happen. It’s more common in older individuals, but it can also happen if you are in a car wreck or experience another type of medical emergency that leaves you unable to make decisions for yourself. Find out what a power of attorney does and how it can help in these situations below.
If you need help creating a power of attorney or have other questions about how to take care of your estate planning needs, Lunn Law LLC can help. Call our office to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. We can discuss your goals with you and help you create a plan that ensures you’re covered.
What Is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to act and make decisions on your behalf. While this may not be something that’s pleasant to think about, it is possible that there may come a time when you are not physically or mentally able to make good decisions for yourself. By proactively creating a power of attorney, you can ensure that the person you want is tasked with making those decisions and have a better chance of your wishes being carried out even if you aren’t able to speak for yourself.
What Are the Different Kinds of Powers of Attorney?
There are a few different types of powers of attorney to be aware of:
- Financial power of attorney. This gives someone else the ability to make financial decisions on your behalf. This can include access to your accounts, writing checks, making deposits, and making purchases.
- Medical power of attorney. Someone who has medical power of attorney is able to make decisions about your health care — but only if you are no longer able to make them yourself. This could happen if you were to be incapacitated in some way, such as be in a coma, or if you no longer have the mental faculties to be able to make decisions, which is more common in older people who have dementia or related health conditions.
- Durable power of attorney. This gives the person named the ability to operate on your behalf in all areas. A durable power of attorney doesn’t have a specific term length and is ongoing until it is revoked.
- Nondurable power of attorney. This option gives someone power of attorney over your affairs for a limited amount of time. The power of attorney specifies when it activates and for how long the person has decision-making power. When the time period is over, the power of attorney also expires.
Some people choose to have multiple powers of attorney so that they can name different people in charge of different aspects of their lives. If you have questions about which of these you may need, talk to an attorney.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Power of Attorney in Georgia?
One of the biggest benefits of having a power of attorney is that you are able to choose who will make decisions for you. If you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make your own decisions and you don’t have a power of attorney, the courts will appoint someone to act on your behalf. And it could be someone you would rather not have made those decisions.
Another benefit of having a power of attorney is that it ensures that everyone understands what is supposed to happen if you are unable to make your own decisions. You can discuss what decisions you would prefer to be made with the person named in the power of attorney so that they have a better idea of what you want and you can have the peace of mind that your affairs will be cared for if you are unable to do so yourself.
Can I Make Changes to a Power of Attorney?
It’s not uncommon for family dynamics or relationships to change as time passes, and you may find that the person you named when you created your power of attorney is no longer the most suitable person. For example, if you were single at the time the power of attorney was created, you may have chosen a sibling or close friend, but now, you may prefer to name a spouse or adult child. You may also wish to revoke a power of attorney completely.
All of these are possible to do, but it’s important to talk to an attorney to ensure that the changes are completed correctly and in accordance with the proper procedures. This can help ensure that any active power of attorney is terminated, and the person you want to add instead has the proper authority.
Giving others the power to make decisions about you is hard, but if it’s done properly, it can help ensure that your wishes are carried out if you are unable to make your own choices. To find out more about why you need a power of attorney and take the first toward creating one, call Lunn Law LLC at 770-762-4628.
How Can a Power of Attorney Be Used to Protect My Assets in Georgia During Incapacitation?
People often think of a power of attorney (POA) as something they can use to have a realtor finish a real estate transaction on their behalf or as part of a living will. POAs can be used those ways–and are valuable for those situations–but they can also be used to protect your assets should you suddenly become incapacitated. Read on to learn more.
What Type of POA Protects Assets?
There are several different types of POAs, and the one that someone wants to protect them if they become incapacitated is a durable power of attorney. This POA is meant to address financial concerns by allowing someone else (called an attorney in fact) to make decisions and handle business and financial concerns while the person who drew up the POA is incapacitated.
Suppose someone doesn’t have this type of POA and becomes incapacitated. In that case, the court may have to intervene to appoint a guardian or conservator to handle the business and financial concerns of the incapacitated person. The court process for this can take ample time, meaning financial decisions won’t be made on a timely basis. It can also be quite costly. In contrast, having a durable power of attorney means that as soon as someone becomes incapacitated, the person named the POA can begin handling their financial affairs.
What Is Incapacity?
- When incapacitated, someone can no longer handle or make decisions about their finances (or healthcare). That could be a situation where someone is in a coma or has suffered a traumatic brain injury that’s disrupted their ability to think clearly and rationally. Incapacitation can be short-term, or it can last for a considerable period of time.
Do I Need an Attorney to Set up a POA?
Technically, anyone 18 years or older, a resident of Georgia, and mentally competent can create their own POA. However, if family members are opposed to the person chosen to be the POA if the POA isn’t legally and soundly drawn up, they may have a case to contest it. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help ensure the POA is correctly drawn up and enforceable.
How Do I Choose the Person to Be My Attorney in Fact in the POA?
In Georgia, the only requirements are that the person is at least 18 years old and legally competent. But this is an important document that potentially assigns a large amount of authority to someone else, so taking time to consider who’s the best person for that role is worthwhile. It’s often a spouse, another family member, or a close friend. Here are considerations for choosing your representative.
- Trust. This is of the utmost importance. Regardless of what exactly is covered in your POA, the person who will handle it needs to be someone you trust to be honest and to abide by your wishes, no matter what their opinion of the situation will be.
- Advocate. The person you choose may have to stand up for your wishes against the wishes of others, including family members or business associates who want things done differently. It’s important to have an assertive and not easily swayed POA.
- Local. Technically, the person acting as your POA doesn’t need to be local. But because financial or business transactions could require them to be physically present at times, it’s more convenient for everyone involved if they live locally.
- Detail-oriented. You want someone who is savvy about working with details and will scrutinize every transaction as carefully as if it was their own.
- Financially sound. Even if this is someone you’re close to and have a good relationship with, think twice about asking them to represent your financial interests if they’re not good with their own finances. The temptations involved are risky.
- +Willing. It’s vital that you have an open, extended conversation with the person you want to list on your POA so they understand what would be expected of them and how much work it might be. If they’re not willing, don’t try to convince them. Move on to someone else. Even if they agree, it’s a good idea to return to the conversation periodically to ensure nothing has changed.
Once I’ve Named My POA, Can I Change My Mind?
Yes. This is not set in stone. If circumstances change (you named your spouse, but now you’re divorcing), not only can you change the person who would represent you, should change them. There are many reasons why someone would want to change their POA, including loss of trust, fallings-out, change in family circumstances, and changes in financial circumstances, among others.
To change your POA, have your attorney help you fill out a Georgia revocation power of attorney form. It details who the original POA was, what their authority was, and your wish to remove them.
This form must be notarized and a copy provided to the person being revoked. If they don’t receive the form, they can legally claim they weren’t informed of the change and still expect to be legally responsible for your finances. Also keep a copy of the revocation form in a safe place and inform those you trust most.
What Should I Do if I Need to Set up a POA in Georgia?
Call Lunn Law LLC as soon as possible at 770-762-4628 to set up a case assessment. Our experienced, knowledgeable estate planning attorneys can help determine the best approach to protect your assets in case you ever become incapacitated. Obviously, the hope is that you’d never need to use it, but having one ready just in case can provide peace of mind. It can also prevent those that matter most to you from being more stressed in an already stressful time.