No one likes thinking about their own or their loved one’s potential incapacity. Unfortunately, many of us will likely find ourselves in need of a financial agent, or someone to step into our shoes and act on our behalf for all financial matters. Who knows when the day will come that I am struck by another motorist and end up in the Shepherd Center, alive but unable to handle my own affairs. One day I may be one of the over 5.7 million Americans who are living with dementia. At some point in the disease progression, it is necessary for someone else to handle my finances.  This is a real possibility.

When thinking about planning for a potential incapacity, the Power of Attorney for Finances always comes up. Here are the first three of five things to know about the Power of Attorney in Georgia:

1. The POA is still the best first step in planning for incapacity.

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to name someone to handle your finances — taxes, bills, bank accounts, real estate sales — if you become incapacitated. This legal document is still the best way to plan for incapacity. It is far from perfect, and it still leaves some gaps in planning, but it is the best first step in planning for incapacity. Without a Power of Attorney in place, there may be no simple way for someone to access your financial accounts or handle your affairs. Many clients who come to us for Conservatorship, have to retain our services simply because a Power of Attorney was never created.

When looking for a Power of Attorney, you want one who is a “General Durable Power of Attorney.” “General” means that the powers covered in the document are broad, not limited. “Durable” means that the document will still be good even if you lose capacity.

2. Georgia updated the Power of Attorney laws in 2017.

Powers of Attorney are not “set it and forget it” documents. In addition to your situation and needs changing, the law changes. This happened just recently. The Georgia legislature changed our Power of Attorney laws on both July 1, 2017 as well as July 1, 2018. We became the 26th state to adopt the Uniform Power of Attorney Act.

It is important that your documents be updated to be in compliance with these new laws. There are extended protections for Georgians, but you can only take advantage of these protections if your Power of Attorney was signed after the laws were adopted. Click here to learn more about the Uniform Power of Attorney Act.

Call us at 678.324-8511;

E-mail us at Info@LawrenceLegal.Law; or 

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Some may need more than an advance directive.

Advance directives can be misinterpreted, misplaced, or disregarded. The advance directive tells healthcare professionals generally what types of treatment you may want if you are in a coma or have a terminal diagnosis and cannot communicate, as well as, tells them who is allowed to make your healthcare decisions.

When you can’t speak for yourself, your healthcare team will review your advance directive and talk to your surrogate to make healthcare decisions. If you are found unresponsive, it does not tell emergency personnel how to respond and how to treat you.

Advance Directives are not medical orders.

An advance directive, however, may not fully meet the needs of all patients. For a patient who is worried about receiving inappropriate or unwanted care, a medical order may be needed. This is where a POLST comes in.

A POLST is a medical order for healthcare professionals.

POLST stands for Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment. It is a medical order that directs healthcare professionals on what to do—without having to consult your healthcare surrogate. It tells them what to do regarding CPR, hospitalization, intubation, mechanical ventilation, antibiotic treatment, and artificial nutrition/hydration.

Advance Directives and POLSTs work together.

The DNR orders and POLSTs do not replace advance directives. The documents work together. Everyone should have an advance directive, and only some people should consider a DNR order and/or POLST. You may want to have a DNR order and/or POLST if you:

  • have specific wishes about your end-of-life care;
  • are ready for a natural death;
  • have a terminal or critical illness; or
  • are at significant risk for cardiac or respiratory arrest.

Healthcare professionals must respond quickly if/when they find you unresponsive. They will not have time to review your advance directive, and in the absence of clear orders to direct them otherwise, they must provide you with all possible life-saving measures to keep you alive. If you have a POLST, your healthcare providers should follow what your order says.

Since DNR orders and POLSTs are medical orders, they must be completed and signed by a physician. If you are interested in learning more about these medical orders, please contact your physician. 

Call us at 678.324-8511;

E-mail us at Info@LawrenceLegal.Law; or 

Click here to schedule a consultation.

A GA Real Estate Attorneys Role at the Closing

The attorney who handles the real estate closing represents the lender and not the buyer or the seller.

While buyers and sellers often consult with a real estate attorney of their own, to do title searches, check documents (including the closing documents) or get advice, usually the closing attorney handles the closing alone, without input from other legal professionals, or any other attorneys being present. But there is nothing to stop the buyer and/or seller having their own attorney with them at the closing.

The federal law that covers the closing is the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), and this legislation applies in addition to the local Georgia real estate license law that the Georgia Real Estate Commission administrates. Chapter 47 of the local state law specifies the process involved for first mortgage loans. The real estate closing attorneys role is also specified in this chapter.

Amongst other things, it is the Georgia real estate closing attorney’s responsibility to:

  • Ensure all documents are completed correctly
  • Ensure deeds, affidavits, and all other documents are delivered to the right people
  • Prepare the settlement or closing statement
  • Disburse money in terms of the closing statement

Georgia law also requires the closing attorney to prepare a detailed statement that shows all disbursements and receipts from the buyer and the seller; and this must be given to both parties, and possibly the broker if there is one involved.

So even though the closing attorney represents the lender, he or she has a responsibility to complete the closing efficiently and accurately in the interests of all parties involved.

Normally the closing attorney explains the contents of the documentation to the buyer and seller at the closing, before everything is signed and sealed. So if you are buying or selling property, or are in the business of lending money for mortgage loans, we are here to help you.

Call us at 678.324-8511;

E-mail us at Info@LawrenceLegal.Law; or 

Click here to schedule a consultation.

Buying property can be exciting, but it can also be daunting. There are specific processes that must be followed, as well as forms that must be filled in and documents that must be completed exactly the right way. At the end, the real estate closing will result in the property being transferred to the purchaser.

Most people need to borrow money to buy a home, and this can be a formidable prospect in itself. Again, there are processes and documents involved, as well as negotiations and agreements to be concluded.

While the process of buying property is basically the same in all US states, local law does have an impact. For instance in Georgia the closing must be conducted by a licensed Georgia  attorney, who is effectively a real estate specialist. Furthermore this attorney must be physically present at the closing, and according to a Georgia Supreme Court order, “in control of the closing process from beginning to end”. This was as a result of an attorney having participated in a real estate closing telephonically, which the Court found “ethically improper”.

In some other states, only attorneys can give legal advice relating to the closing. Real estate attorneys must also draft all the legal documentation. But a “non-attorney” may handle the closing.

While we don’t regularly handle real estate closings outside of the Metro Atlanta area, we can refer you to other attorneys in the State of Georgia who may be able to assist.

Call us at 678.324-8511;

E-mail us at Info@LawrenceLegal.Law; or 

Click here to schedule a consultation.