A power of attorney is among the most important estate planning documents you need when getting your affairs in order. Unfortunately, many Americans are hesitant to have one. According to a 2018 Merrill study, in partnership with Age Wave, only approximately 18% of American adults aged 55 years and older have the recommended essentials of a durable power of attorney, will, and advanced healthcare directive. Through a POA, you can designate authority to an agent of your choosing, allowing that person to oversee your health, legal, and financial affairs when you’re unavailable or unable to act on your own behalf.
If you are thinking about drafting a power of attorney, you need to speak with a knowledgeable Ohio estate planning attorney for detailed guidance. At Peterson & Peterson, LLC, we have the experience and resources to assist clients in the legal matters of estate planning, including powers of attorney. Our attorneys are available to discuss your situation and help you understand your estate planning options. We will offer you the support and advocacy you need to establish your power of attorney and make key decisions.
Our team at Peterson & Peterson, LLC proudly serves clients throughout Xenia, Ohio, and the surrounding areas of Bellbrook, Beavercreek, Springfield, Greene County, Lebanon, and Warren County.
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person (the “attorney-in-fact” or “agent”) the legal authority to make decisions regarding the principal's finances, property, healthcare, tax, or legal affairs. Having a power of attorney ensures that you choose a person who will act on your behalf when you are unavailable or unable to handle your own affairs.
According to Ohio Revised Code Title 13 Section 1337.60, "a power of attorney authorizes another person (your agent) to make decisions concerning your property for you (the principal). Your agent will be able to make decisions and act with respect to your property (including your money) whether or not you are able to act for yourself."
There are different types of powers of attorney, and each has its unique purpose. Here are the ones recognized under Ohio law:
Under Ohio law, a general power of attorney (also known as financial power of attorney) gives the agent the power and legal authority to act on the principal's behalf in almost any matter. The agent can manage personal finances, open financial accounts, enter into contracts, and purchase or sell a real estate property.
A limited or special power of attorney allows the principal to specify certain matters that the agent can act upon on their behalf. The limited power of attorney can grant the agent authority to make bank withdrawals, a single transaction, or sell certain pieces of property or belongings.
In Ohio, a healthcare power of attorney is popularly referred to as an advanced care directive. The healthcare POA allows the agent to make decisions about the principal’s medical care should they become mentally incompetent, unconscious, or otherwise unable to act.
A springing power of attorney becomes active when a certain event occurs, as specified in the POA document. Such an event may be when the principal becomes mentally incapacitated.
Ohio law considers all powers of attorney to be durable. Unless it is specifically stated otherwise in the power of attorney document, the attorney-in-fact can legally act on the principal’s behalf after sudden incapacitation.
Choosing the agent for your power of attorney requires careful consideration. Here are some important factors to think about:
Reliability & Trust: You should only choose a reliable and trusted person as your power of attorney. The agent should respect your true wishes, have your best interests at heart, and be mindful of their privileges.
Decision-Making Acumen: Your agent must be able to act diligently, regardless of the situation. You should choose an attorney-in-fact who can make informed decisions, even when under possibly strenuous situations.
Attention to Detail: Choose an attorney-in-fact who can keep accurate and detailed records of all transactions done on your behalf.
Understanding of Roles & Duties: The person you’re choosing as your agent must clearly understand their role, duties, and responsibilities. Likewise, they must be willing to take on and perform designated tasks.
Closeness: Proximity is another factor to consider. Choose someone who lives nearby, so that the agent can be present when the need arises.
Cooperation: Your attorney-in-fact must be willing to cooperate and collaborate with your lawyer, advisor, accountant, and other parties if required.
Choosing an agent to manage your financial life, assets, healthcare, tax, and legal affairs requires critical consideration. In the event that you fall victim to an ill-fated event, become unavailable, or unable to act, having a power of attorney document enables you to leave your finances, assets, and medical interests in trusted hands. An experienced estate planning attorney can offer you the proper guidance you need and help you make key decisions.
At Peterson & Peterson, LLC, we’re dedicated to providing comprehensive legal guidance and advocacy in estate planning-related matters. Our attorneys can advise you on how to choose a dependable and trustworthy person as your agent. As your legal counsel, we will guide you through the legal steps involved in drafting your power of attorney and work meticulously to address your unique needs and goals. Our team will review your situation and outline a strategic estate plan that protects your assets, property, investments, best interests, and family's future.
If you need assistance in choosing your power of attorney, contact us at Peterson & Peterson, LLC today to schedule a consultation. Our team can offer you the comprehensive legal counsel, support, and advocacy you need to make informed decisions in your selection process. We’re proud to serve clients across Xenia, Bellbrook, Beavercreek, Springfield, Greene County, Lebanon, and Warren County, Ohio.