The Power of Attorney is one of the most important estate planning documents you can have since it allows another person to make financial decisions for you. However, just because you have a Power of Attorney doesn’t mean it will always work when you need it to.
In some cases, a bank or other financial institution will refuse to accept the Power of Attorney on the basis of age; generally, documents over 3 years old can be considered “stale” and unacceptable.
In Ohio, you need to be especially sure that the attorney you choose to draft your Power of Attorney has the appropriate experience so that the document really allows your agent to do what you want, when you want. One of the most important things to keep in mind when drafting a Power of Attorney is that, if what you want is not specifically stated in the document, your agent won’t be able to carry out your wishes. In very broad terms, this means “size matters”. A two or three page document will most likely NOT do what you want it to do. It may not even meet the minimum requirements in the State at this time. If you then think about the very specific tasks you may need your agent to perform on your behalf, the “size” of the document may need to reach 8, 9, or 10 pages to encompass all of those potential tasks.
In other occurrences, a Power of Attorney may be challenged in court by a family member or interested party who believes you’ve been coerced into signing the document. In these cases, there are certain steps you can take to make sure your Power of Attorney will hold up to scrutiny.
First, you should consult with an experienced Ohio estate planning and elder law attorney when drafting a Power of Attorney. Your attorney should be apprised of all state laws and regulations regarding the Power of Attorney, giving you the best and most current protections available.
When it comes time to finalize your Power of Attorney, you must sign it in front of two non-related witnesses, and in the presence of a Notary Public (which may be one of the witnesses) who will put a raised seal on the document. This will ensure that your Power of Attorney will not be rejected because it lacks a raised seal.
Finally, if possible, you should make an appointment each year with your estate and elder law attorney to have your Power of Attorney reviewed and updated according to any changes in the law. You’ll also have a chance to amend your documents if you simply change your mind about who you want to serve as your agent or the scope of the authority you’ve given that person. By creating an updated document every few years, you will make sure there are no challenges to your Power of Attorney on the basis of it being too old.
If you’d like more information about creating a Power of Attorney, or if you’d like to have your existing Power of Attorney reviewed by an experienced Ohio elder law attorney to make sure it meets, not just the statutory requirements, but also your wants and needs please contact our office at 877-653-3450 to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.