In Decatur, Georgia, power of attorney is an arrangement in which one person (the principal) gives another (the attorney-in-fact) the ability to act on the principal's behalf in certain situations, and under certain conditions. Power of attorney might be granted for any number of reasons, but it is most often set up to allow the attorney-in-fact to make financial and medical decisions on the principal's behalf in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated.
Any power-of-attorney arrangement creates the possibility that the attorney-in-fact will abuse the power he or she has been granted, and it's simply not feasible to completely eliminate this possibility. It can be minimized, however, by giving the attorney the bare minimum amount of authority needed to carry out your wishes, and making your wishes known in writing (with copies held by at least one other person) well in advance. When granting power of attorney, you can generally grant as much authority as you want, so you need to be very careful, and only give this legal authority to somebody you know and trust. Also, you should consider your circumstances and objectives when determining what type of power to grant.
If you have a strong preference with respect to end-of-life care, but worry that you might be unable to express your wishes when the time comes, you may want to give a family member the legal authority to make such decisions for you, if necessary. Of course, the power you grant them should be clearly limited to medical decisions, if that's all you want them to be able to decide. It should also clearly state that this power will not actually vest until and unless you actually become incapacitated. For reasons that should be obvious, you should only give this power to a person you trust.
Generally, you can find forms in Decatur, Georgia that let you easily draft a power of attorney document. However, if a large amount of money is at stake, or you wish to grant very specific and limited powers, you should probably consult with a lawyer beforehand.
Types of Power of Attorney Arrangements in Decatur, Georgia
In Decatur, Georgia, power of attorney can take three basic forms. They are as follows:
1. Limited power of attorney - this is the most limited form of power of attorney. It lets the attorney-in-fact exercise his or her power once, and in only one instance (laid out by the principal, of course). This is commonly used in business deals, if it is not convenient for the actual party to a deal to be physically present for the signing of some documents, it can be done through an attorney-in-fact. You simply need to give them the authority to sign the paperwork on your behalf, and it will be just as binding as if you had signed the documents yourself.
2. Durable power of attorney - this gives the attorney in fact the power to make decisions on a general area of the principal's affairs (for example, the power to access the principal's assets to pay the principal's debts, or the power to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the principal). Unlike limited power of attorney, durable power of attorney does not expire unless the principal revokes it. This is useful, because it allows the attorney-in-fact to make important decisions for the principal if the principal becomes incapacitated.
3. Springing power of attorney - this is similar to durable power of attorney, but the power is conditional. That is, it does not take effect unless some specific event takes place. This event can be anything. Most often, however, the agreement allows the attorney-in-fact to make important medical and financial decisions for the principal, only in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated. However, there are sometimes disagreements over whether or not a person is actually "incapacitated" to the point that the power of attorney has been triggered. This can lead to a court of law having to decide the issue.
Can a Decatur, Georgia Lawyer Help?
Because setting up a power of attorney agreement is not always easy in Decatur, Georgia, it's never imprudent to at least consult with a lawyer beforehand. As with any legal agreement, there are things that can go wrong, which laypersons may not foresee.