Putting a plan in place

It starts from a young age when our parents tell us to eat our vegetables because they are good for us. We study in school so we can achieve a base of knowledge that will help us in conversations, exploring our interests and eventually a career. As adults we are responsible for home maintenance, paying bills and often caring for others among many other things that may not always be viewed as ‘fun’. One of these adult responsibilities should be creating your estate plan. No, it’s not ‘fun’, but it is necessary for you to make your wishes known and it is also a way you can show your family you are caring for them by taking care of legal and financial matters. Part of any estate plan includes preparing a Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare and a General Durable Power of Attorney

Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare

As we have shared before, an Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare is an important and easy document to create. Basically, it is a legal document that allows you to appoint a healthcare agent who can  make medical decisions for you if you cannot make the decisions yourself.

In addition the document allows you to state your treatment preferences for end-of-life care. As a matter of fact, you can go into detail such as; would you want to be placed on a ventilator or feeding tube or would you prefer pain medications and other comfort measures. You may also nominate a Guardian if it becomes necessary as well as state your wishes for final disposition (cremation or burial). This document also includes a HIPPA release.

Appointing the right person to make your healthcare decisions is important. You should choose someone who understands and will follow your choices. Family discussions in advance often make these decisions a bit easier. You can create your advance directive (download HERE) without a notary. All you need is 2 unrelated adults to witness the document.

General Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters

In addition to the Advance Directive, everyone over 18 should also have a General Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters (POA). The agent you appoint should be able to act on your behalf if you are not able. A good financial POA will include the ability to pay bills, file insurance claims and deal with real estate transactions.

Durable means it is still effective if you become incapacitated by something such as an accident, stroke or dementia. It should also be compliant with the 2017 Georgia Uniform Power of Attorney Act. In a nutshell, the UPOAA provides ways to protect individuals from “bad actor agents” who are misusing the POAs, often for their own benefit. Of special concern are those who are suffering from some form of cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease. It also provides some way to force third parties, such as banks and other financial institutions, to honor a POA. If your POA was prepared before 2017, you should consider updating it, so it contains these new protections.

Lastly, it is critical you choose a trusted person to act in this role. A close friend or professional may be the best choice if a responsible family member isn’t an option. It is also important you use an experienced attorney to prepare the POA. Financial POAs downloaded from the internet often do not include all the powers needed in situations which end up causing the family more headaches and costs in the end.

As Benjamin Franklin’s saying goes, “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”. Use this spring season of energy and renewal to take care of this necessary responsibility to yourself and your family. Call Hurley Elder Care Law at 404-843-0121 with any questions and to schedule your meeting today.


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