A financial power of attorney allows the principal to name one or more agents to handle the principal’s financial affairs. A financial power of attorney will not give the agent(s) the power to make health care decisions or personal decisions for the principal.
It is very important to consider carefully a decision to use a financial power of attorney. You should think about what financial decisions you would want your agent(s) to make and who would be the best agent(s) to make those decisions. You should not let anyone pressure you into setting up a financial power of attorney or into giving any power to your agent(s) that you do not want to give.
Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care (Advance Directive for Health Care)
A Georgia law specifically authorizes the use of a durable power of attorney for health care (“DPAHC”) or Advance Directive for Health Care. A DPAHC or Advance Directive for Health Care is a power of attorney in which the principal gives the authority to one or more agents to make health care decisions for the principal if he or she becomes disabled, incapacitated, or incompetent.
A new format was approved by the legislature and became effective as of July 1, 2007. The new form is entitled “Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care” and incorporates much of the same information as the previous form, with some specific differences. The most obvious change is that the Living Will has now been incorporated as part of the Advance Directive for Health Care, under a section entitled “Treatment Preferences.” DPAHCs and Living Wills signed prior to July 1, 2007 are still valid.
Powers of attorney in general
A “power of attorney” is a legal document in which a person, called the “principal,” gives to another person, called the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact,” the authority to make decisions for the principal. A “general” power of attorney gives broad power to the named agent to act on behalf of the principal, while a “limited” power of attorney is generally used for one specific purpose. Traditionally, it is recommended that all adults who have capacity to do so, regardless of age, execute powers of attorney for finances and for healthcare, so that, if an emergency arises, they have had the opportunity to designate the individual whom they want to handle their healthcare decisions and financial issues.
By signing a power of attorney, the principal does not give up any rights. The principal may, while competent, always make his or her own decisions. In fact, a power of attorney can provide that it does not become effective unless and until the principal becomes incapacitated.