Agents Under Power of Attorney – Where Will You Get Hauled Into Court?

by Bryan Cave

Powers of attorney can be matters of convenience or matters of necessity – the principal either doesn’t want to do something or the principal can’t do something.  For the agents under a power of attorney, allowing yourself to be named as an agent may be nothing more than a favor to friend or an expectation as a son or daughter.  When agreeing to be an agent, it may be worth a pause to consider the geographic scope of that responsibility.  Friends and kids move away, but – like a daughter acting as an agent under her father’s power of attorney in Sullivan v. Bunnell – they may find themselves getting hauled into court across the country because they served as an agent under a power of attorney.

Here, in the midst of his divorce, the father moved from Georgia to California where his daughter resided. The father hired Georgia counsel to represent him in settlement negotiations and the daughter assisted him with e-mail and telephone conversations with Georgia counsel.  The father executed a power of attorney appointing his daughter as agent and, sometime thereafter, the father was put under care and supervision for dementia.  Several years later, the daughter, acting as agent, sent a letter through counsel informing the ex-wife that certain payments agreed to under the divorce settlement agreement would end.  The ex-wife demanded compliance with the terms of the divorce settlement agreement and then filed a contempt motion in Georgia.  The contempt action named the daughter individually and as a fiduciary for the father.  The daughter sought to dismiss the Georgia action on the grounds that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over her as a California resident.  The trial court agreed, but the Georgia Court of Appeals found that personal jurisdiction could be exercised over the non-resident agent acting under a power of attorney.

What led to the Georgia Court of Appeals determining that the courts of Georgia could properly assert personal jurisdiction over a non-resident individual who acted under a power of attorney?  The appellate court started by rejecting the ex-wife’s argument that the daughter was subject to personal jurisdiction in Georgia because of the father’s contempt of the divorce decree. Even if the daughter was involved in the negotiations that led to the divorce decree, those actions do not extend to the father’s contempt of the final decree. The appellate court then focused on the daughter’s actions within Georgia as agent: hiring counsel to indicate that the father would stop making the retirement payments and communicating with the ex-wife about the father’s noncompliance with the payments. Thus, the daughter was alleged to have been the primary participant in the activities at issue – nonpayment of the retirement payments.

In reaching its decision – which may be the first time Georgia has directly faced the question of personal jurisdiction over a non-resident agent acting under a power of attorney – the appellate court noted that at least two other states allow for such exercise of personal jurisdiction: New York and Florida.  Looking to New York and Florida for guidance on Georgia power of attorney issues is curious since each state has unique laws governing their state’s powers of attorney.  Georgia, however, may be headed toward joining a growing number of states that have adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act.  Georgia’s General Assembly passed the UPOAA in 2017 and now it awaits the Governor’s signature.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Bryan Cave | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Bryan Cave

Bryan Cave on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.