Legislation That May Affect Your Estate Plan

Last year, Georgia adopted a new Uniform Power of Attorney Act (“UPOAA”) that will apply to most general financial Powers of Attorney (“POAs”). With this significant legislative change and the beginning of a new year, now is a great time to review your estate plan as this law could affect how your financial matters are handled later in life.

What is a POA?

A POA is a document that gives a person or an organization the power to manage your affairs should you become unable to do so. Should you become unable to handle financial affairs and you do not have a valid POA, it is likely to be difficult or nearly impossible for family members to ensure that any bills get paid and that your finances are handled properly. 

Why is it important to have a POA?

Should your POA be invalid, the only option would be to have a conservator, a court appointed guardian, handle your affairs. And while the conservator can handle your financial affairs, her or she would be subject to ongoing court supervision and strict rules. Probate court conservatorship proceedings can take a long time, and can be very costly.

If you have a POA in place, you could avoid the need for a conservatorship proceeding and the person handling affairs on your behalf would not be subject to the ongoing court supervision and strict rules applied to a conservator.

How does this law affect me?

These new laws provide for more comprehensive laws governing the use and acceptance of a written POA. Prior to this act, banks or other financial institutions could not be required to accept the POA. And, a POA that is not accepted is virtually useless. Now, these third parties can be forced to accept POAs if certain conditions are satisfied and they could be penalized for refusing to accept the POA.

Additionally, the new law better protects the principals (those who grant authority to have their affairs handled by someone else) against the ability of agents (the person handling the affairs) to take advantage of them. With this new legislation, POAs are more valuable pieces of an estate plan because they are more easily enforced and better prevent bad actors from abusing the power granted to them.

If you have questions about how the UPOAA may affect you or someone you love, give us a call at 770-532-6312. We are happy to help!