A power of attorney can be an effective estate planning tool. It allows a person, called the principal, to designate another person, called an agent, to act on his or her behalf. The agent is required to act in the best interest of the principal and may only act to the extent allowed by the power of attorney document.
A financial power of attorney may allow the agent to manage the principal’s finances, business and personal matters. It is important for the principal to choose a trustworthy person as his or her agent.
If designated by the principal, the agent has the power to oversee real property, personal property, government program benefits, retirement plans, taxes, and digital assets in addition to others.
In Ohio, the agent must act in a way that supports the principal’s estate plan. If the principal has an estate plan it can helpful for him or her to explain the details of it to the agent, including providing contact information for the professional who drafted it.
The agent does not have the power to change beneficiary designations, let others act in his or her place or give away the principal’s property.
Changing the power of attorney
As long as the principal still has the capacity to do so, he or she can revoke the power of attorney at any time. Also, if the power of attorney does not list when the agent’s powers expire, they will end when the principal passes away or when the power of attorney is revoked.
The estate planning process, including completing a power of attorney can seem complex. An experienced attorney can provide guidance and advice.