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What to Know About Power of Attorney in Ohio

A power of attorney in Ohio can grant someone the authority to make decisions and act on your behalf.

A financial power of attorney allows you to authorize a trusted friend or relative to pay your bills, access your accounts, talk to your bank, complete real estate transactions and otherwise handle your finances in the event you cannot do so yourself. Like other states, Ohio recognizes powers of attorney as legal documents. These documents can be very useful in the event that illness, injury, aging or travel affects your ability to manage financial matters. Ohio handles powers of attorney similarly to most states, but there may be variations with some states. Ask a financial advisor to review your situation and determine if a power of attorney should be part of your preparations.  

Ohio Power of Attorney Basics 

You can use a power of attorney in Ohio, as in other states, to appoint someone to act as your representative to handle financial, medical and other affairs. The person granting authority is called the principal and their representative is called the agent.

A power of attorney is a legal document in Ohio. To create a valid power of attorney in the state, the principal must have capacity, be at least age 18 and sign a dated document witnessed by two people or, preferably, notarized. The Ohio legislature has prescribed a statutory form making financial powers of attorney easy to complete in the state.

Power of attorney documents made before March 2012 under previous state law remain effective, but should be reviewed and, if necessary, updated. All powers of attorney in Ohio are now durable by default, meaning they stay in force if you become incapacitated. Springing powers of attorney that take effect only upon incapacity are also legally valid, but financial institutions tend to prefer the type that go into effect immediately.

Using Ohio Powers of Attorney

A senior preparing a power of attorney with her daughter in Ohio.

You can make Ohio powers of attorney broad, covering nearly any kind of finance or banking activity. Or you can design them narrowly. When filling out the statutory form, you can check the types of activities your agent can handle for you. For example, you could have a power of attorney effective only for a specific home sale. Special instructions or limitations can further clarify which powers are being conferred. For instance, a power of attorney may specify or whether co-agents must jointly approve transactions.  

All Ohio powers of attorney are durable, meaning once in effect they stay in effect until rescinded. A variety called a springing power of attorney only takes effect after the development of some kind of physical or mental incapacity. The document will describe how incapacity will be determined, such as by a medical examination. Unless it is a springing power of attorney, the document grants the agent authority immediately.

A valid power of attorney can be a significant advantage in certain situations. Without one in place, relatives usually must petition courts to appoint a guardian to handle an incapacitated person’s finances. This is a much costlier and more public process that also tends to generate family conflict.

Ohio Powers of Attorney Comparisons

Ohio adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act in 2012 to align with most U.S. states’ standards. The uniform act aims to curb financial exploitation of vulnerable adults by strictly defining the agent’s duties and by giving courts the ability to review the powers it grants.

Through this and more recent revisions, Ohio law now allows agents to handle digital assets and request records. It also improves acceptance of these forms by third parties such as banks. It forces powers of attorney to explicitly allow certain gifts or beneficiary changes that have traditionally seen as suspect. It also sets up firm agent responsibilities and establishes agent liability for violations. These oversight mechanisms attempt to limit potential downsides of handing total control over your assets, income sources and property.

Ohio’s simple fill-in-the-blank statutory power of attorney form makes it easy for residents to legally designate financial surrogates. Ohio consumers can still consult attorneys to create tailored documents with more specificity. Using an attorney adds cost, but may pay off by setting up air-tight protocols and preparing for unforeseen circumstances. No matter how it’s obtained, a power of attorney remains much easier, faster and cheaper for Ohio families than seeking court guardianship in the event someone becomes incapacitated.

Bottom Line 

A senior signing a power of attorney in Ohio.

With enhanced consumer protections now in place, Ohioans can confidently plan ahead to keep their affairs in order using statutory powers of attorney for finances. The state’s online form can be used to create valid and durable legal documents that either go into effect immediately or when incapacity strikes. Powers of attorney grant agents broad abilities, so cautious planners may want to seek legal guidance to carefully designate trustworthy agents, convey expectations, limit powers judiciously and implement appropriate oversight.

Estate Planning Tips

  • Discuss naming durable power of attorney designees and contingency protocols with a financial advisor. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Learn more about Ohio’s inheritance laws with SmartAsset’s inheritance guide.

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