Georgia Power of Attorney Requirements

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

Georgia Power of Attorney Requirements

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

Giving a trusted family member, friend, or professional power of attorney over your financial affairs in Georgia is often a smart move. If you become incapacitated or incompetent at some point in the future, your power of attorney allows your named agent to get information and transact business on your behalf. This can eliminate the need for a loved one to go to court to obtain a conservatorship over your finances. Georgia implemented the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA) on July 1, 2017. Forms prepared after that date must comply with the new law.

Businessman and businesswoman in office overlooking city looking at document over computer

The person creating a power of attorney is the principal, and the agent authorized under the form is the attorney-in-fact.

Execution Requirements

Whether you hire a Georgia attorney to prepare your power of attorney, create your own, or use a reputable legal services provider to draft your financial power of attorney document, follow Georgia's requirements to execute the form legally. It is important to ensure your power of attorney meets these requirements. If it does not, there is a chance that banks, credit unions, investment firms, or other financial organizations will not accept the form.

Under the UPOAA, power of attorney forms created in Georgia after July 1, 2017, must either follow the format established under the law (O.C.G.A. ยง 10-6B-70) or must contain substantially the same language as that provided in the statutory form.

To execute a valid Georgia power of attorney, the principal must sign the document along with at least one competent witness and a notary public. If the principal is unable to sign, someone else can sign the form at the principal's direction and in the principal's presence. All three people signing (the principal or their agent, the witness, and the notary) must do so in the presence of the others.

UPOAA Default Provisions

The UPOAA includes several default provisions. Unless the principal specifically changes or limits authority, these provisions apply:

  • Effective date. The power of attorney is effective immediately after the principal signs it. Powers of attorney automatically terminate when the principal dies, unless revoked sooner.
  • Durability. By default, Georgia powers of attorney are durable. This means that the form remains in effect during periods of lifetime incapacity or incompetence.
  • Compensation. Attorneys-in-fact are not entitled to compensation. However, they may receive reasonable reimbursement if they incur expenses in carrying out their duties for the principal.
  • Dissolution. If you name your spouse as your attorney-in-fact but later file for divorce, separation, or annulment of your marriage, your spouse no longer has authority under the power of attorney.
  • Co-agents. If you name more than one attorney-in-fact, the default provision says either of your named attorneys-in-fact can act independently.

Understanding the Authority Granted

A power of attorney is often a valuable tool in an estate-planning toolbox. However, it can also be dangerous if the principal does not fully understand the attorney-in-fact's authority under the document.

Powers of attorney authorize the attorney-in-fact to handle financial matters for the principal but do not cover health care decisions or actions. If you want to give someone else decision-making authority for your health care, you should prepare an advance directive for health care that complies with Georgia law.

Consider your options before naming an attorney-in-fact, and only name someone you trust explicitly to act in your best interest and honor your wishes. You may wish to consult with a Georgia estate-planning attorney who can help you evaluate various decisions and prepare a power of attorney document designed to meet your needs today and in the future.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.