Keeping a power of attorney current

Georgia residents who have prepared medical or financial powers of attorney might want to review them with an attorney to make sure they are still current. Starting in 1993 with the Uniform Health Care Decisions Act, there have been several changes in law that could affect the validity or function of a power of attorney. For example, the UHCDA expands the decision-making powers of the medical POA to include items such as organ donation and life-prolonging procedures. Medical POAs created prior to 1993 can be updated to include these decision-making abilities.

It is necessary for a medical POA to include language that makes it compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This legislation was enacted in 1996, and medical POAs that do not include authorization for access to the principal's medical information need to be updated.

Financial POAs could be affected by the 2006 Uniform Power of Attorney Act. Under the UPAA, the power of attorney only grants certain powers when they are specified. Included in these powers are the ability to change beneficiaries, make gifts or alter trusts.

In general, it is a good idea to review POAs and other estate planning documents regularly. In addition to changes in law, changes in assets or a person's family can mean that the documents need to be changed.

This regular review may be something a person hesitates to do just as many people hesitate to create an estate plan in the first place because estate planning deals with difficult topics such as incapacity and death. However, it is important both for a person's own wishes and for the sake of loved ones that an estate plan be created and kept up to date. Communication with family members about the plan may also help ensure that it is understood and less likely to be challenged.

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