Estate Planning 101

Getting Power of Attorney for an Elderly Parent in Georgia

This guide will delve into the various aspects of acquiring a Power of Attorney for an elderly parent in Georgia, from the basics to the specifics of unique situations including dementia, mental illness, and hospitalization.
September 14, 2023

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As our parents age, we may find ourselves needing to step in and assist them in managing their affairs. One of the most effective ways to do this is by obtaining a Power of Attorney (POA). In Georgia, there are specific legal procedures to follow. Let's explore the process of getting a POA for an elderly parent in Georgia.

The Process of Getting POA for a Parent in Georgia

Obtaining a POA for a parent in Georgia involves several steps. By understanding these, you can ensure that your parent's wishes and interests are upheld, especially when they are unable to make decisions for themselves. Let's break down the process:

  1. Understand the Types of POA: There are different types of POAs available in Georgia. A General POA gives broad powers to a person (known as an agent) to act on behalf of your parent. A Durable POA remains in effect even if your parent becomes incapacitated. A Healthcare POA gives the agent the power to make healthcare decisions when your parent is unable to do so.
  2. Discuss with Your Parent: It's important to have a conversation with your parent about the need for a POA and who they would trust to make decisions on their behalf. This conversation should be handled with sensitivity and respect.
  3. Choose an Agent: The agent should be a reliable and trustworthy individual who understands your parent's wishes and is willing to act in their best interest. This could be a family member, close friend, or a professional like an attorney or financial advisor.
  4. Prepare the POA Document: Draft the POA document, clearly outlining the powers given to the agent, when these powers begin, and any limitations to these powers.
  5. Legal Formalities: In Georgia, your parent must sign the POA document in the presence of a notary public. Two adult witnesses who are not the agent or the notary must also sign the document.
  6. Store the Document: Keep the original POA document in a safe but accessible place. Provide copies to the agent, alternate agents, and any institutions like banks or healthcare providers that may need it.
  7. Review Regularly: It's advisable to review the POA periodically and make changes if necessary, especially if your parent's health or personal situation changes.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Get POA?

The legal process of obtaining a POA can be daunting, and you may wonder whether you need a lawyer. In Georgia, you are not legally required to hire a lawyer to draft a POA. However, whether you should get legal help depends on several factors:

  1. Complexity of the Situation: If your parent’s financial situation or estate is complex, having a lawyer can be beneficial. A lawyer can offer advice tailored to your specific circumstances, ensuring that all legal bases are covered.
  2. Understanding Legal Terminology: If you're comfortable with legal terms and how they apply to your situation, you might decide to draft the POA without a lawyer. However, if you find the language confusing, a lawyer can help clarify the terms and ensure you understand the document.
  3. Disputes: If there's potential for disputes among family members about the POA, having a lawyer can help navigate these issues. They can provide neutral advice and ensure the document is legally sound.
  4. Elder Law Issues: If your parent has specific needs related to elder law, such as long-term care planning or Medicaid eligibility, an elder law attorney could be valuable.

Getting POA for a Relative with Dementia

When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, it becomes crucial to establish a POA to safeguard their interests. Here's how you can navigate the process of getting a POA for a relative with dementia in Georgia:

  1. Timing is Important: A POA requires the person granting it – the principal – to be of 'sound mind' at the time of signing. Therefore, it’s important to discuss and execute a POA as soon as possible after a dementia diagnosis.
  2. Choosing the Appropriate POA: For cases of dementia, a Durable POA is often the best choice. This allows the designated agent to make decisions on behalf of your loved one even if they become incapacitated.
  3. Medical Evaluation: If your relative’s mental capacity is questionable, it may be wise to have them medically evaluated before executing the POA. This can serve as evidence that they were competent at the time of signing.
  4. Legal Assistance: Given the complexities involved, it's often beneficial to engage a lawyer. They can guide you through the process, ensuring all legal requirements are met and that the document is crafted to best serve your relative's needs.
  5. Compassionate Communication: Discussing a POA with a loved one suffering from dementia requires patience, compassion, and understanding. Be sure to explain what a POA is and how it can protect their interests.
  6. Regular Reviews: As dementia progresses, it may be necessary to review and adjust the POA. Regularly reassessing the situation will help ensure that your loved one's needs are being adequately met.

Getting POA for Relatives in Comas or in Hospital

If your loved one is in a coma or in the hospital for an extended period, you may need to obtain a POA to manage their affairs. Here's how to navigate this challenging situation in Georgia:

  1. Incapacity and POA: A POA requires the principal to be of sound mind at the time of signing. If your relative is in a coma or otherwise incapacitated, they may not be able to legally grant a POA.
  2. Existing POA: If your relative had a Durable POA before becoming incapacitated, the designated agent can step in and make decisions on their behalf. This emphasizes the importance of advance planning.
  3. Guardianship or Conservatorship: If no POA exists and your relative is incapacitated, you may need to pursue a guardianship or conservatorship. This involves a court process where a judge appoints a guardian or conservator to make decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person.
  4. Medical POA or Healthcare Proxy: If your relative is hospitalized but still mentally capable, they might consider creating a Medical POA or healthcare proxy. This specifically allows the appointed agent to make healthcare decisions if the principal becomes unable to do so.
  5. Legal Assistance: Given the complexities of these situations, seeking legal advice is highly recommended. An attorney can guide you through the available options and help you choose the best course of action.
  6. Emotional Support: It’s an incredibly emotional time when a loved one is in a coma or hospital. Therefore, it's essential to seek emotional support for yourself, whether from friends, family, or professional counselors.

Making a POA for a Parent Online with Snug

Technology has made it possible to carry out traditionally complex tasks, such as drafting a POA, online. Platforms like Snug make the process of creating a POA simple and convenient. Here's how you can make a POA for a parent online using Snug:

  1. Understand Your Needs: Before you start, it's crucial to understand your specific needs. Snug provides the ability to create general and medical powers of attorney.
  2. Create an Account: To get started, create an account on Snug. This will allow you to access their suite of tools and resources.
  3. Follow the Guided Process: Snug provides a guided process to create your POA. This ensures all necessary information is included and that the document meets your specific needs.
  4. Review and Edit: Snug allows you to review and edit the document as necessary. This ensures that the final POA accurately reflects your parent's wishes and the powers granted to the agent.
  5. Legal Validation: Once satisfied with the document, you can print it out. Remember, for the POA to be legally valid in Georgia, it must be signed by your parent in the presence of a notary public and two adult witnesses.
  6. Store Safely: After validation, Snug offers safe and secure storage for your documents. This ensures that the POA is readily available when needed.

By using Snug, you're not only making the process of creating a POA more efficient, but you're also ensuring that the document is legally sound. Snug's platform is designed to help you navigate the complexities of estate planning, providing peace of mind that your parent's interests are well protected. Remember, it's always a good idea to consult with a legal professional if you have specific questions or concerns.