There are many types of powers of attorney and many common uses for these documents. However, the potential for abuse is high, particularly when powers are granted that are overly broad, when the wrong type of document is used, or when such powers are entrusted to the wrong person.
At their simplest they are convenient. If you have ever purchased a car at an auto dealership, for example, you may have signed a limited power of attorney that allows the dealership to process your title paperwork and/or register your vehicle with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
But abuses of powers of attorney can also be catastrophic, leading to consequences ranging from identity theft to financial ruin. These problems have become more commonplace with the advent of online document services and do-it-yourself legal help. Those who fail to understand the powers being granted, and the ramifications of abuse, are exposing themselves to significant hardship. Powers of attorney are always best drafted by an experienced Cleveland law firm.
Those who believe they have been taken advantage of, should seek immediate legal help.
Powers of attorney may be either limited or durable. A limited power of attorney is good for a specific purpose and expires at the conclusion of its purpose. A durable power of attorney can last indefinitely and is good even if the principal becomes incapacitated or incompetent.
Common types of durable powers of attorney in Ohio:
Financial Powers of Attorney: A legal document an individual (the “principal”) can use to appoint someone (the “agent”) to act on his or her behalf regarding personal, financial and business matters. Powers of attorney may be granted over Real Property; Tangible Personal Property; Stocks and Bonds; Commodities and Options; Banks and Other Financial Institutions; Operation of Entity or Business; Insurance and Annuities; Estates, Trusts, and Other Beneficial Interests; Claims and Litigation; Personal and Family Maintenance; Benefits From Governmental Programs or Civil or Military Service; Retirement Plans; Taxes; and, Digital Assets.
Healthcare Powers of Attorney: Permits healthcare decisions to be made on a principal’s behalf by an agent of his or her choosing.
While powers of attorney are simple to establish, they can also be subject to abuse as they are not supervised by a court system. Nor are financial institutions and other agencies required to comply with their terms.
A living Will, which outlines your medical choices and/or whom you would like to be in charge of making such decisions on your behalf should you become incompetent or incapacitated, can be a better option compared to a healthcare power of attorney. Likewise, a conservatorship or guardianship, both of which are supervised by the court, can offer greater protection than a financial power of attorney.
The broad powers granted by a power of attorney mean such documents are always best drafted in consultation with an experienced Cleveland law firm. When abuses are believed to have occurred, seeking the advice of an experienced lawyer is best done as soon as possible. In far too many cases, the actions that trigger concern turn out to be just the tip of the iceberg and an experienced law firm will be in the best position to determine the extent of abuse and to move quickly to protect the rights of the principal or other family members.
Daniel McGowan represents clients in probate and estate matters throughout the Cleveland area, including Lakewood, Rocky River, Fairview Park, Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, South Euclid, East Cleveland, Linndale, Brooklyn, Parma, Brook Park. Newburgh Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, Brooklyn Heights, Warrensville Heights, Maple Heights, Garfield Heights, Bratenahl and Euclid.
Call 216-242-6054 today for a free and confidential consultation.