Georgia’s New Uniform Power of Attorney Act

Effective July 1, 2017, Georgians have access to improved power of attorney laws if they sign a new, written power of attorney made in compliance with the Georgia Uniform Power of Attorney Act (the Act) on or after
July 1, 2017.

The Act, passed this year by the state legislature and signed by the Governor, provides for a more comprehensive set of laws governing use and acceptance of a written power of attorney (POA) in the state. Importantly, these new laws help protect someone from theft or misuse of assets by someone serving as their agent by providing for greater clarity on the agent’s obligations to the principal, and also provides for the ability to require that third parties accept the POA.

From time to time, a third party such as a bank or other financial institution, may have objected to a POA and not allowed it to be used, instead requiring that their own form or documents be signed and used instead. If the principal had the mental and legal capacity to sign a new form it could be done, but significant problems arose when the principal was incapacitated and not able to execute the other form. Now, under the Act, it is possible to force acceptance of the POA if certain conditions are satisfied. That is an important change, and may be reason enough for those who have already signed a POA to execute a new one on or after July 1, 2017.

The Act (codified as O.C.G.A. 10-6B-1 et. seq.) applies only to a POA signed on or after July 1, 2017. Older POAs will continue to be valid under the law as it existed prior to June 30, 2017, but those older POAs will not receive the additional benefits provided for under the new laws. For this reason, we recommend that our clients carefully consider executing a new POA so that their POA is covered under these new laws. Doing so may afford better treatment and acceptance of the POA in the event it is required to be used.

For a POA to fall under the Act, it must be in the exact form as provided for under the law (in O.C.G.A. 10-6B-70), or be a document that substantially reflects the language of that code section (certain Military POA’s may also qualify). So, it is highly likely that simply signing a new copy of a POA that you previously signed will not be effective, as that will not likely be in a substantially similar form.

If you have questions about the new POA, please contact us.