A power of attorney is a key part of the overall estate plan for Ohio residents, but will it always work the way you intended it to when you need it to?

The document is designed to allow someone to take an action on your behalf when you aren’t able to do so. If you are incapacitated, you will need someone you trust to make decisions for you, pay your bills and manage your everyday affairs. You can have a general power of attorney or limit its scope.

If you don’t create a power of attorney, a court will need to declare you unable to take care of yourself and appoint a guardian to do so. That guardian might not be someone you would have chosen.

But what will happen if your agent needs to invoke your power of attorney?

The person you have chosen might find that some institutions, such as your bank, won’t accept it. They aren’t required to by law, and each institution can enact its own rules for working with a power of attorney.

Some of their rules could include not accepting a power of attorney that was signed more than six months ago or one that isn’t on one of their own forms, for example. Sometimes, the power of attorney form might be sent on to an institution’s attorneys to determine if it will be accepted.

When you execute your power of attorney, take the following actions:

  1. Make sure your agent has the copy of the power of attorney and information about your finances, such as account numbers.
  2. Visit your financial institution to see if the power of attorney is accepted there.
  3. Consolidate as many accounts as possible. It will be easier to deal with fewer entities.
  4. Build relationships with representatives of each firm. That will make it easier to enact the power of attorney.

Your Ohio estate planning attorney will be able to answer your specific questions about powers of attorney and offer you guidance about any hurdles that you might face.