Barriers to accepting a POA

“No,” “Denied,” “We can’t accept that,” … These are all words our client families hear daily when presenting a General Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters  (POA) at a financial institution.  To protect an account holder’s assets, many banks will refuse to accept a power of attorney. They fear fraud and exploitation, so they will often create artificial barriers to accepting an account holder’s POA.

This is often infuriating and confusing to the named agent who is likely already facing a stressful and overwhelming situation. They are also often in a hurry to get important financial matters addressed. A common tactic financial institutions use to turn away acting financial agents is to claim the POA is “stale,” “expired,” or “too old.”

Does Georgia require a POA to have an expiration date?

Let’s be clear: there is no Georgia statute that forces a power of attorney to have a set expiration date.

There is no magical number of years that a power of attorney must have been written within to still be valid. So, when you hear:

“Your power of attorney is over five years old; we can’t use it.”
“This POA was written in 2010—it’s not good anymore.”
“This power of attorney is stale.”

Know that this is a false claim. Push back. Ask to speak to a manager or to one of the financial institution’s attorneys. Because here is the truth:

Most powers of attorney are good until the creator of the POA dies.

If there is an expiration date, the power of attorney document will say within it when it expires or when it is no longer effective. This is rare. Most, however, state the document is good until the person’s death, it is revoked or if no named agent is able to act.

However, it is important to note, in 2017, the Georgia legislature took steps to improve the current Georgia code. It is called the Georgia Uniform Power of Attorney Act which did make some significant changes.

What are the major features of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act?

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 ways to force third parties, such as banks and other financial institutions, to honor a POA.

Should you get a new POA if yours was created prior to July 2017?

We do recommend you consider getting a new POA so you won’t have to be as concerned with your financial institution accepting it when you need this document the most. As noted, the new POAs do contain more important protections.

If you have any questions about a GDPOA or if you would like your documents reviewed by one of our Certified Elder Law Attorneys, please contact our office at (404) 843-0121 or through our website at

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