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Power of Attorney

When you sign a Power of Attorney you give the right to your agent to control certain of your property that they would otherwise not be able to touch.  If you allow it they can control all you own.

A Power of Attorney is a valuable resource as people get older and need help with their financial matters.  It allows others to help in the least restrictive way possible.

For example, a person who is hospitalized may need to get license plates for their vehicle.  A Power of Attorney is the tool that will allow someone else renew those plate.

An elder that can no longer manage their finances may want to give complete control to a trusted family member.

Two things must be understood.

By the person who is agent:  The person who is the agent, who is helping the person, must understand that he or she can only act in the best interest of the person giving that power.  Acting against the best interest is a serious crime.  When an elder is involved that can bring a penalty that presumes time in prison.  You steal you go to prison.

The person signing and giving over the power:  The person signing the Power of Attorney must understand that if later the person cannot be trusted it is important to immediately revoke the Power of Attorney.  You may fully trust that person now.  Five or ten years down the road that may change.

How much power can I give?

You can give as much or as little power as you want to your agent.  You decide.

How to revoke a Power of Attorney

One revokes a Power of Attorney by telling the person you no longer wish them to be your agent.  You also must contact banks, financial institutions and others involved to tell them that the Power of Attorney has been revoked.

If the agent uses the Power of Attorney after it had been revoked that agent is acting against the best interests and can be criminally charged.

If a Power of Attorney was recorded with the county recorder, then the revocation must also be recorded.

My parent has dementia.  Can they sign?

A person who has been adjudicated incompetent cannot legally sign a Power of Attorney.

A general test of competency for making a will is a good test here.  Can the person tell you what he or she owns?  Can they tell you who that property might go to after his or her death?  Who does the person want the property to go to?

A person must be competent.  They must understand and be able to voice their understanding of what they are signing.  They must understand they can revoke it at any time.  They have to understand the agent they assign to be power of attorney must act only in their best interests.

To have a person with dementia who does not have that understanding sign a Power of Attorney is wrong.  Any attorney doing so will end up losing his or her license.  The family member could get charged with theft.  The care of that person will likely be taken and placed in more responsible hands.

My parent signed a Power of Attorney prior to their incompetence, is it still good?

Unless it is written otherwise, you can still use a Power of Attorney after a person becomes disabled.   A Power of Attorney is durable.  It continues in effect unless the Power of Attorney prohibits use after a disability.

Do I need to update my Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney must have proper, legal language that complies with the Ohio Revised Code.  This often changes and should it change a bank might decide old versions of a Powers of Attorney are no longer good.  A good example of this was a major change in the law in 2012.  If your Power of Attorney was written before then, it may not be accepted.

How do I sign when using a Power of Attorney?

You print the person's name.  You note you are the agent.  You sign your name.  Like this:

John Doe

By Jane Doe as agent

Jane Doe


Does a Power of Attorney expire or otherwise end?

A Power of Attorney does not expire.

A Power of attorney ends on the death.

 You cannot use a Power of Attorney after the death of the person

who signed it!