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Basics of Estate Planning (Part 3)

Basics of Estate Planning (3)
Welcome back to Siedentopf Law’s new video series on the Basics of Estate Planning! Today, in part three, estate planning and probate attorney Sarah Siedentopf is talking about the financial power of attorney.

Hi, I’m attorney Sarah Siedentopf. I’m an estate planning and probate attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. The basics of estate planning: what documents do you need?

Today, we’re going to talk about the financial power of attorney. Georgia has an excellent new law as of 2017 and Revisited in 2018 that really gives the financial power of attorney more teeth, if you will.

One problem people had for a long time was that banks and other institutions really didn’t want to accept these financial power of attorneys, and the new laws have really helped to give a way to force the bank to comply with the law. So financial power of attorney, what does it do? Why do you want it? In a nutshell, the financial power of attorney authorizes someone else to do financial and legal things on your behalf. You can still do them for yourself, but you’ve given someone else the authority to do it as well and it can start now, the minute you sign it, or you can designate that they only have this authority once you are incapacitated. 

One common misconception is that a financial power of attorney allows someone to act after you’ve passed away. This is not true. At that point, the power of attorney terminates because you are no longer there giving them the authority to act on your behalf. 

But the power of attorney allows someone else to go to the bank, go to the post office, maybe do a closing on some land, or sell a house — things that you might not be able to do if you’re in the hospital. Things that you might not want to do. Sometimes spouses give one another power of attorney so that only one of them has to go to a closing for the sale of a house. 

It can be incredibly helpful both for unexpected illnesses and accidents as well as just for convenience. A power of attorney can also allow someone to continue running your business, depending on the setup of the business and what the power of attorney allows them to do. So if you had to step away from your business you would know that there was someone who is able to make those decisions and keep things running so that you had a business to come back to once you recovered. 

So the financial power of attorney can be very, very important and is a basic estate planning document. If you’ve got questions about this, please let me know. Thank you.

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