March 14, 2018 | Fundamentals
Powers of attorney are a frequently misunderstood and underappreciated piece of an estate plan. The term “power of attorney” simply refers to any document that you can use to appoint an agent to do something on your behalf. A power of attorney for property is a document that allows an agent to handle your financial affairs on your behalf. If such a power of attorney is “durable” then it is written so that it remains effective even if you are incapacitated. For example, if you are knocked unconscious in an accident, an agent under your durable power of attorney can access your checking account to pay bills and expenses on your behalf. Another example of incapacity is dementia from advanced age that might prevent you from effectively handling your own affairs at times. The power of attorney will remain in effect until your death, at which time your Executor, appointed in your Last Will and Testament, takes over your affairs.
As you might imagine, not having a durable power of attorney in place prior to becoming incapacitated is problematic. Once you are incapacitated, you cannot execute a durable power of attorney. Instead, a court may have to appoint a custodian to handle your affairs. Executing a durable power of attorney for property can save you and your family a great deal of time, expense, and worry.
For residents of Georgia, a new power of attorney law enacted in 2017 makes considering your durable power of attorney for property especially important. If you executed a power of attorney prior to July of 2017, your power of attorney is still effective, but you will not be able to take advantage of some of the new benefits and protections found in the new statute.
Contact one of our attorneys today if you’d like to discuss a durable power of attorney for property or any other aspect of your estate plan.