Power of attorney is a phrase many people have heard, but not a lot of people really know what it means, much less why it’s important to draft a plan for yourself that includes it.
Briefly, ‘power of attorney’ is a legal tool that gives a person you trust permission to act on your behalf, as if they were you, in limited circumstances. The details can get sticky, which is why it’s always a good idea to ask for professional help in drafting a power of attorney plan, even if you’re using a form document and just need it looked over.
Kabb Law, an Elder Law and Care Firm in Beachwood, OH, has been helping seniors, veterans and their families assign power of attorney for many years, and we’re here to help you know what your options are.
In general, you have the ability to assign power of attorney so your needs and wishes can be taken care of by a person you trust to do what’s in your best interest.
A person you’ve given the power of attorney to can act in your place for legal contracts, property matters, and even health decisions, should you be unable to do it for yourself.
In Ohio law, there are two basic kinds of power of attorney: general and health care.
General Durable Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney is an all-around authorization to a person you trust to speak for you and take actions in your name that usually only you could authorize.
People appoint representatives with power of attorney for all kinds of reasons, such as a limited power in a business partnership or a broader power in case you are disabled, deployed overseas or otherwise unable to represent yourself.
A general power of attorney can be very broad or very narrow, depending on how much or how little you need to be done for you.
People with a general power of attorney can usually act in your place for:
- Communicating with banks
- Collecting money
- Paying bills
- Selling property, including your house
- Setting up a trust
- Managing online accounts
- Applying for public benefits, such as SNAP or Section 8
- Hiring a lawyer to represent you and sharing the details of your case
A general power of attorney has to be assigned in writing, and it’s usually limited by specific provisions you request.
This power can also end at a set time or when other conditions occur, such as your disability or death.
Health Care Power of Attorney
Health care power of attorney is the other major type of provision Kabb Law can help you set up. This is different from the general power of attorney, as the person you assign it to is specifically charged with managing your medical issues for you. People with health care power of attorney can, on your behalf:
- Communicate private medical information with doctors
- Consent to or decline medical treatments
- Make end-of-life decisions, including do not resuscitate orders and other “living wills”
It is vitally important to get all the details of your power of attorney arrangements right on the first try.
The Elder Law and Care team of attorneys at Kabb Law has the experience to help you understand your options and make the choices that best protect you, your loved ones and the people you’ve entrusted with general and health care durable power of attorney.