As our population ages, more and more adult children find themselves having to help a parent or other elderly relative deal with legal and financial matters. To legally authorize that help, the senior should have a valid Power of Attorney.
The Georgia Power of Attorney statutory form explains that when someone accepts authority under a Power of Attorney, a special legal relationship is created between the agent and the person signing the document, who is called the principal. That relationship imposes legal duties on the agent.
If the agent knows what the principal’s expectations are for the agent in dealing with the principal’s 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 and in good faith.
An important rule in acting as an agent is the rule against self-dealing. Don’t benefit yourself to the detriment of the principal. Avoid conflicts that impair your ability to act in the principal’s best interest.
Keep careful records of all receipts, disbursements and transactions.
If it becomes your responsibility to manage the principal’s investments, the principal’s financial advisor could be a helpful resource. If there is no financial advisor and you don’t have experience with investments, see if the Power of Attorney authorizes you to retain professional help.
If you are not the principal’s health care agent, communicate with the health care agent to make sure the principal is receiving proper care, and that you and the health care agent are in agreement on the long term care plan, based on expenses the principal can afford.
When you are signing on behalf of the principal, be sure to disclose your identity as agent by signing the principal’s name, and your name as agent.
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.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your responsibilities, you should consult with the attorney who prepared the Power of Attorney. If you need help in creating a Power of Attorney or have more questions about how to properly create the right Estate Plan for your parent or yourself, please click here to contact.