One major component of a complete estate plan is a financial Power of Attorney.
Although important, the financial Power of Attorney is often misunderstood.
A financial Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to name someone to handle your finances — taxes, bills, bank accounts, real estate sales, etc. It can help protect your wishes, provide for ongoing financial management of your affairs, and ease the financial disruption that can follow an illness or accident. This legal document is one of the ways to plan for incapacity.
Almost everyone over the age of 18 should have a complete and properly executed financial Power of Attorney.
Without a Power of Attorney in place, there may be no simple way for someone to access your financial accounts or handle your affairs should you become unable to handle your own affairs. No one likes thinking about their own (or their loved one’s) potential incapacity. But unfortunately, many of us will find ourselves in need of a financial agent—someone to step into our shoes and act on our behalf for all financial matters.
Creating a complete estate plan that includes a Power of Attorney can help you avoid complicated legal situations that include Conservatorship. Many clients who come to us for Conservatorship have to retain our services simply because a financial Power of Attorney was never created. A bit of preplanning before a crisis can make a big difference. It may seem like an unnecessary hassle and expense when you’re healthy and of sound mind, but having a Power of Attorney is an essential part of a complete estate plan (even if you never plan to get ill or injured).
Even if you have a Power of Attorney, it may need to be updated. Georgia updated the Power of Attorney laws in 2017. Powers of Attorney are not “set it and forget it” documents. In addition to your situation and needs changing, the law changes. This happened just recently. The Georgia legislature changed our Power of Attorney laws on both July 1, 2017 as well as July 1, 2018.
Georgia became the 26th state to adopt a version of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act.
While a Power of Attorney that was executed prior to the new law is still valid, there are extended protections and powers that are only available under the new statute. It is certainly worth revisiting your Power of Attorney if yours was executed prior to the implementation of the new law. Click here to learn more about the Uniform Power of Attorney Act.