As we have discussed over this series of posts on the topic of power of attorney, they are a useful tool for elder law planning. A power of attorney allows someone (“the principle”) to appoint someone else (“the agent”) to manage their financial affairs. This is important for elder law planning as many of the programs that cover the cost of long term care have asset limits which require the movement of assets. Thus movement may require a specific power of attorney when the senior needing access to such programs lacks the capacity to move the assets themselves. Moving assets is often required by long term care programs, such as nursing home Medicaid and Veterans or widows pension (VA improved pension with aid and attendance).
Many people are hesitant to sign a power of attorney because they worry that they are giving up control. This is understandable as few people want to lose control of their finances. This is based on a misunderstanding of the power of attorney, as signing the power of attorney does not diminish any rights of the principle. The principle retain all rights, even though the agent has the same powers to control the principle’s financial interest. Also, under Georgia law, the principle can revoke any powers provided to the agent at any time. The use of a power of attorney is an extremely useful planning tool in elder law. Due to the scope of powers provided and the potential for abuse of power, it is advisable to discuss a power of attorney with an experienced elder law attorney.