Elements of Estate Planning: Power of Attorney

During the month of April, we are going to focus our newsletters on the most common documents that comprise an Estate Plan. In last week’s newsletter we discussed Wills.  This week we will look at a document essential to your Estate Plan, the Power of Attorney.

Estate planning is more than arranging for the disposition of assets at death.  It includes having a plan to deal with the possibility of incapacity during lifetime.

It is important for everyone to have a Power of Attorney, sometimes called a Financial Power of Attorney, a General Power of Attorney, or a Durable Power of Attorney.

The person executing the Power of Attorney is called the Principal.  The Principal appoints an Agent to manage some or all financial and legal matters.

A Power of Attorney can be immediately effective, or it can be a springing power of attorney that springs into effect when a condition is met, such as a doctor providing a statement that the Principal is incapacitated.

The Georgia Power of Attorney Statutory form explains that a special legal relationship is created between the Agent the Principal, imposing legal duties on the Agent.

If the Agent knows what the principal’s expectations are for the Agent in dealing with the Principal’s financial affairs, the Agent is supposed to carry out those expectations.  If the Principal has not communicated any expectations, the Agent is supposed to act in the Principal’s best interest.

The Agent should keep careful records of all receipts, disbursements and transactions.

Georgia law authorizes an Agent to be reimbursed for reasonable expenses.  For the Agent to receive compensation, the Power of Attorney must specifically authorize compensation.

The current Georgia Power of Attorney law was enacted in 2017.  If a Power of Attorney was executed prior to 2017, it is important to do a new one that follows the 2017 statute.  If it is time to update your Power of Attorney, please call our office at 770-817-4999 today.

Do you have other questions about estate planning?  I am hosting a webinar with Attorney Jeremiah Amos on Saturday, April 24th that may help you identify what you need to “protect your stuff”.  For more information or to register, click here.

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