Acting on Your Behalf: Understanding Powers of Attorney in the State of Georgia

When illness or absence leaves us unable to make our own financial and/or health care decisions, a planning document known as a Power of Attorney can give an agent of our choosing the authority to step in and handle those matters on our behalf. You are not required to name a family member, so a Power of Attorney can grant your same-sex spouse rights that might otherwise be designated to blood relatives.

In Georgia, there are two primary types of Power of Attorney, each one designed to provide temporary or ongoing support.

General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney grants your agent the legal ability to act on your behalf in both property and financial matters. They include:

  • Handling your banking matters
  • Paying bills and settling claims
  • Buying and selling real estate
  • Entering into contracts
  • Filing tax returns

These powers are generally intended to be temporary and remain in effect only until you resume the ability to manage these affairs yourself.

Special Power of Attorney

Also known as a limited power of attorney, this arrangement grants your agent the authority to act on your behalf in certain matters only. For example, if you are a member of the U.S. military and preparing for overseas deployment, you can grant a relative or trusted friend special power of attorney to pay your bills or sell your home.

Both general and special powers of attorney have certain conditions that govern how long they remain in effect or what situations activate them.

  • Durable Power of Attorney: A durable power of attorney allows the arrangement to come into effect if you become incapacitated or unable to manage your own affairs. It is important to note that you must specifically include a durable provision in your power of attorney. Otherwise it is invalid if you become mentally incompetent.
  • Springing Power of Attorney: Often described as a ‘just in case’ arrangement, a springing power of attorney is prepared solely for the purpose of appointing an agent if you become mentally incompetent. Once it ‘springs’ into effect, the power is identical to a durable power of attorney.

In Georgia, powers of attorney must be witnessed and notarized before they are considered legally valid. Some types must be filed with the appropriate organization or institution to be considered effective. Powers of attorney involving real estate must be recorded with the register of deeds office, for example. Some medical and financial institutions also require that you file the power of attorney document directly with them.

At Scriber Law Group, LLC, we can create a Georgia Power of Attorney arrangement that is compatible with your personal needs and circumstances, either on an individual basis or as part of an estate planning package. In either event, you will rest assured in the knowledge that your personal, financial, and business matters will be properly managed in the event that you are unable to do so yourself.

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Scriber Law Group, LLC

Scriber Law Group, LLC is heavily experienced in handling the needs of clients with specific, complex estate planning and asset protection needs, such as same-sex couples and blended families.

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