Using Powers of Attorney Effectively

People sometimes need to have others perform tasks on their behalf. In many situations, these tasks can only be completed by someone who receives power of attorney. In Georgia, you can only be given power of attorney through a written document signed by the person granting you the power, known as the principal. Always talk to a lawyer if you need legal advice or have questions about any specific power of attorney issues in Georgia.

Documentation

Powers of attorney can only be conveyed through writing. Georgia Code section 10-6-142 provides examples of power of attorney forms that contains all the required language, they are not the only kind of POA that can be used. The keys to any power of attorney in the state are: that it is in writing, it names the parties, details the powers passed, is signed by the principal, witnessed by two people or notarized.

Capacity

A principal can only give you power of attorney if he is capable of doing so, meaning he must be of sound mind. A person of sound mind is able to understand his actions, know what he is granting and be able to revoke it if he so chooses. Typically, if a principal loses his ability to make decisions, the power of attorney terminates automatically. However, a durable power of attorney continues to allow you to act even if the principal is no longer of sound mind.

Limitations

Your ability to act on behalf of the principal is limited by two key elements: time and the terms of the power of attorney. Powers of attorney last for one of two time periods: as long as the principal decides or as long as the principal is alive. If the principal wants to terminate your power at any time, he can do so. Also, no power of attorney lasts beyond the principal's death. Further, the terms of the power of attorney can place specific limits on your power to as much or as little an extent as the principal desires. Also, only people of sound mind can grant valid POA. Anyone who is not of sound mind is not legally capable of granting power of attorney.

Grant of Power

Your right to make decisions under a power of attorney takes place in one of two situations: when the principal signs the document or, after signing, when a specified event takes place. The specified event can be anything the principal decided, and must be included in the power of attorney document. For example, if the principal wants you to take over his financial responsibilities if he becomes so sick he can no longer make decisions, the power of attorney must specify this. If it does not specify, the power of attorney takes effect immediately.

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