Powers of attorney can be important legal tools for your future. After all, it’s hard to predict how capable you will be of making important financial or healthcare decisions for yourself or your family. My firm is dedicated to helping families plan far in advance for their future, providing you peace of mind that your future is, in some ways, in your control. Whether you seek powers of attorney for financial matters or medical decisions, Sobon Law LLC can help you better understand the legal implications of such documents and how to create one.
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What Is a Power of Attorney?
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.
How to Create a Power of Attorney
To create a power of attorney, you must:
- Create the POA with an attorney according to state guidelines.
- Sign the POA in the presence of a notary public.
- Give a copy of the POA to your agent.
- File a copy of your POA with the Land Records Office (if you initialed real property in your POA).
- This is an optional step, but you can provide copies of a financial POA to financial institutions your agent may need to interact with in the future.
Any competent adult can be named as your agent, though you should strongly consider their trustworthiness and geographical proximity to you. Ohio allows the appointment of co-agents, though it is best to name just one agent for the sake of simplicity. However, you can name a “successor” agent if your first-choice agent is unavailable.
POAs can be confusing to navigate, especially when they’re less talked about than conventional documents like wills. However, powers of attorney are immensely important for your future, as they can help organize a future that is uncertain. This is why I advise young families to think about their future; wouldn’t you feel more assured if you had a backup plan in place for who should manage your finances and medical treatment if you were to grow ill or old? Let’s protect your future welfare with a power of attorney today.
Contact Sobon Law LLC online for an initial consultation to get started. Bilingual Polish services available.