A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives someone you trust (called the “attorney-in-fact” or “agent”) the legal authority to act on your behalf. You can determine the terms of your POA, such as how long it should last, what kinds of decisions the agent can make, and when the order comes into effect.
Durable POAs are the most common (and a good idea for anyone), as they are POAs that remain in effect even if you have become incapacitated, which helps you better prepare for the unexpected. In Ohio, estate plans usually include the following durable POAs:
- POA for finances – allows someone to handle your financial or business matters (e.g., filing and paying your taxes, collecting benefits from Social Security, handling transactions with banks and other financial institutions, managing your retirement accounts, buying or selling real estate for you)
- POA for healthcare – allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf (e.g., authorizing organ donation, authorizing the disposition of your remains, withdrawing life-prolonging procedures when you are close to death)
Note that there are other types of POAs, such as non-durable (limited or special) POAs that terminate when you become incapacitated and springing POAs that come into effect once a specific event occurs. Non-durable POAs tend to be used for a one-time task or a finite duration, such as if you and your family go on a long vacation, and you want someone to oversee the sale of your rental property during your trip.
Once your POA is valid and finalized, it is effective immediately (unless you have stated that it take effect at a future date, as with a springing POA). A POA will last until your death or if:
- you revoke it while you are mentally competent;
- no agent is available;
- a court invalidates the document on the grounds that you were not mentally sound when you signed it or you signed it under fraud or undue influence.