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What is a Statutory Power of Attorney in Georgia?
Regardless of age or financial status, anyone can benefit from a power of attorney. A Georgia Statutory Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust to manage your finances for your benefit if you are unable to manage your assets yourself. A Georgia Statutory Power of Attorney may be effective immediately or may not become effective until you become incapacitated (called a spurt). If no one is appointed as a proxy, your assets may be frozen and inaccessible, even for your use, until a guardianship is created. A guardianship is the legal process for a judge to appoint someone to manage your finances. Anyone can apply to be a curator, and the person appointed may not be the same person you would have chosen.
A Georgia Statutory Power of Attorney cannot be used when passing. An agent’s authority ceases and probate must be initiated upon the death of an account holder. A Georgia Statutory Power of Attorney should be created before insanity sets in and should be created well in advance so that no argument can be made that you have been unduly influenced. To be valid, a Georgia Statutory Power of Attorney requires the signature of the creator, a witness (not the agent), and a notary public.
What assets are managed
A Georgia Statutory Power of Attorney, although it is a statutory form, can be customized for each person. The document provides options for you to grant or deny powers over each asset. In the first part of the power of attorney, called the “general powers”, you generally authorize all the powers of this section, because they are the ones which allow your agent to manage your finances efficiently (access to a bank account, declaration of income for you, paying your mortgage, etc.). The second section, “Specific Powers,” mainly deals with beneficiary designations, creating trusts, disclaiming inheritance, etc., and may be powers that you don’t typically grant an agent. The Georgia Statutory Power of Attorney is different from other power of attorney forms because it has the power of the Georgia Legislature behind it. In 2017, a new power of attorney law was passed which states that if a Georgia statutory power of attorney is used, a financial institution cannot reject the document outside of a good faith basis. This means that you no longer have to complete the power of attorney for each company. This single form can be used at all financial institutions in Georgia.
Example 1: Becky is twenty-five and doesn’t own much, but she does have a checking account and 401(k) through her employer. Becky has rent, utilities, taxes, car payment and other financial obligations. During her morning commute, Becky has a car accident that leaves her in a coma for two weeks and in the hospital for a month. During this time, Becky is unable to manage her finances or make decisions about her financial obligations. If Becky had a statutory power of attorney in Georgia, that person could take care of her financial obligations for her.
Example 2: George is 83 and starting to show signs of dementia. George can live independently at the moment but forgets to pay his bills on time and doesn’t remember where all his accounts are. However, George made a statutory power of attorney in Georgia which named his son, Henry, as his agent. Henry can pay George’s bills, file his taxes, direct his investments, and when the time comes, sign a contract for George to move into an assisted living facility.
Planning for the future can save your family time and money and make your life easier. A power of attorney can avoid the need for judicial oversight and reporting through guardianship and ensure that someone you trust is managing your finances for you. Although we cannot predict every future event, we can plan for it. Let Drew Eckl & Farnham help you plan for all of life’s circumstances.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.
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