Durable General Power of Attorney

A durable general power of attorney is an agency agreement. The person who creates the document is the “principal” and the person nominated to act on behalf of the principal is the “agent.” It allows the agent you name (and backups) to perform ordinary legal transactions such as banking, writing checks, withdrawing funds, signing tax returns, and employing attorneys and accountants, etc.

Although the document can be set up to only be effective if you lose the legal capacity to act for yourself, we find this to be an obstacle to handling matters promptly and swiftly. Because of that, we generally counsel clients to execute documents that are "durable." A "durable" does not require the principal's incapacity to be effective. And because of that, no one needs to prove incapacity to handle affairs. But with that, the person chosen as the agent must be somebody that is completely trustworthy and would always act appropriately.

Accordingly, this document may prevent or reduce the extent of guardianship proceedings for you in the event that you do become incapacitated. Guardianship proceedings, aside from being lengthy and costly, are a matter of public record.

For elder law attorneys like us, financial powers of attorney are essential to accomplish meaningful asset protection.

What are the essential powers for asset protection?

We need several powers to give us the most flexibility. Of the many, here are the essentials:
  • Power to make gifts
  • Power to create and fund trusts
  • Power to manage financial accounts
  • Power to delegate to other professionals
  • Power to self-deal

Why are these powers necessary?

To accomplish any asset protection, we have to be able to transfer property out of the applicant’s name. Ohio law limits how that can be accomplished unless these powers are specifically written into the document. So, without a good, broad power of attorney, we may be limited to what we can do or we may be forced to pursue a guardianship to protect assets—and that costs considerably more in legal service fees.