Why Do I Need a Durable Power of Attorney?

February 14, 2017  

Do you want a stranger making your legal, financial or health decisions for you if you cannot do so? Traditionally, if a person in Ohio became incapacitated, the only option was to have a guardian appointed by Probate Court to make those decisions. This expensive, cumbersome procedure is still being used today UNLESS you have a Power of Attorney.

A Power of Attorney allows one person (the Agent) to act on behalf of another (the Principal) in broad or in limited circumstances. In addition to naming a person as Agent, the Principal should also name one or more alternates in case the first named cannot act. The duties of the Agent are detailed in a legal document known as a Power of Attorney.

The Principal must be competent when the Power of Attorney is signed, and it may continue until revoked or until the Principal dies. In all cases, the Agent can only perform those activities permitted by the Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is activated either as soon as it is signed (an immediate power) or in the future upon the happening of a specific event (a springing power).

The Power of Attorney is flexible in that it usually allows the Principal’s assets (such as bank accounts or real estate) to remain in the Principal’s name. The Agent then simply deals with the property on behalf of the Principal. This eliminates the risky practice of placing a person’s assets in joint names. Title to the Principal’s assets should be placed or left solely in the name of the Principal as the true owner. Professional assistance should be sought to transfer or correct any asset titles.

Upon the death of the Principal, the Power of Attorney ceases. The Agent can take no further action under the Power of Attorney but should maintain records of all legal, financial and health transactions under which the Power of Attorney was utilized until it is clear the records will no longer be needed by the Agent.

A Power of Attorney is a powerful legal document and should only be used when the Principal has complete trust in the Agent. If you need assistance regarding the preparation or use of a Power of Attorney, either for you as Principal or in your capacity as Agent for another, Attorney Andrea C. Kryszak would be pleased to assist you. She can be reached at 440-934-5330 or 1-888-934-5330.

This information is provided as general information only and is not intended as legal advice. Competent legal counsel should be consulted about your particular situation.