Understanding the Types of Powers of Attorney in Georgia
A power of attorney is a part of every estate plan, but many different types of powers of attorney exist for various types of situations.
Before meeting with an estate attorney, it helps to understand what each type involves and whether that type of power of attorney is needed for your specific situation.
General Power of Attorney
The first type of power of attorney document is a general power of attorney. This document gives authority to someone else to act on the covered individual’s behalf in all general matters. The general power of attorney gives wide authority to manage both property and financial matters for the lifetime of the grantor of the power.
It is important to emphasize that this power is only for the lifetime of the person covered.
These general powers include but are not limited to:
- Authorizing bank transactions;
- Accessing safety deposit boxes;
- Buying and selling property;
- Purchasing life insurance policies;
- Settling claims on behalf of the grantor;
- Entering into contracts;
- Exercising rights of stock ownership;
- Filing tax returns; and
- Handling matters related to the grantor’s government benefits.
The most common type of general power of attorney is a durable power of attorney. The “durable” part of the power of attorney allows the document to stay in effect and be enforced if the grantor becomes incapacitated or not able to handle his or her affairs. The durable provision or language is important to keep the power of attorney effective if the grantor loses mental capacity.
The power of attorney document can limit these powers, depending on how much authority the grantor wishes to give the individual.
Specific Power of Attorney
Many times, only a specific power of attorney will be needed to authorize that individual to act on behalf of the grantor. Many times, this document will only be needed for a set period of time or will only be needed to deal with one specific person or institution.
These specific powers include the authority to:
- Maintain and operate business interests;
- Making gifts;
- Making a transfer to a revocable/living trust;
- Sell a specific piece of real property;
- Disclaiming any legal interests.
The specific power of attorney can also be limited to a certain period to help manage the grantor’s affairs. For instance, if the grantor is expected to be out of the country or temporarily unreachable, a specific power of attorney can be issued for that period of time.
Springing Power of Attorney
A springing power of attorney includes “springing” language in the document that take effect upon the occurrence of a specific event, date or condition.
Unlike other powers of attorney, it does not come into effect as soon as it is signed. It is more of a document that is drawn up “just-in-case.” The event can be someone losing mental capacity.
Like a durable power of attorney, it remains effective in the event of mental incapacity, but unlike a normal durable power of attorney, it only becomes effective once that specific event occurs.
HIPAA Authorization and Healthcare Power of Attorney
Occasionally, someone may need to accept medical information on behalf of another individual. However, doctors are not always so willing to reveal this personal information to someone without proper authorization.
A HIPAA authorization is a written document that gives another person authority and permission to speak with a physician on behalf of the grantor.
A doctor should be charged with making the determination as to whether the grantor is, in fact, incapacitated and not able to sufficiently make medical decisions or accept medical information on his or her own behalf. Once that occurs, then the HIPAA authorization takes effect.
Statutory Power of Attorney
Another form of a power of attorney is known as a statutory power of attorney. This type of power of attorney is a phrase used to indicate when a state statute directly grants a power of attorney.
The power of attorney document normally copies the statute’s language directly in the actual document. Many times, the statute can even provide a form to be used. Georgia has a statutory financial power of attorney and an advanced healthcare directive that acts as a healthcare power of attorney and living will.
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