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Changes in Ohio Power of Attorney Laws

Changes in Ohio Power of Attorney Laws

If you’re an Ohio resident concerned with the estate plan or medical care of a loved one, you should be familiar with Ohio’s laws regarding power of attorney.  Cleveland, Ohio estate planning attorney Dan A. Baron offers the following:

What is a financial power of attorney?

A financial power of attorney (POA) is a legal document an individual (the “principal”) can use to appoint someone (the “agent”) to act on his or her behalf.  This authority can be used for financial, business, and health matters.   Most often, this authority is used when an individual becomes unable to handle his or her own affairs.  However, a POA can be used for other matters such as taking care of business matters.  A principal can name one agent, or two or more co-agents, each of whom can act alone, unless the POA states otherwise.  The POA might allow for each agent to act independently, or as a group.

Changes in Ohio law

Effective March 22, 2012, Ohio adopted new laws regarding power of attorneys.   Ohio’s Uniform Power of Attorney Act, or UPOAA, focuses on preventing financial elder abuse.  The law now includes a statutory form with language designed to help prevent agents from abusing their power.  Put simply, the law now demands POA’s to be more specific.  For example, third parties such as a financial institution are not required to honor a general POA.  Now, the law asks that a POA includes specifically which types of assets and accounts the agent is allowed to control.

Ohio provides a statutory form that includes language designed to help prevent agents from abusing their power.  This form can be found in Ohio Revised Code 1337.60.   The form lists actions that an agent may or may not take and includes a section called “Important Information for Agent.”   The principal can simply check the box of the powers he or she wishes to designate.   It’s important to consult with an attorney when implementing one of these forms into your estate plan.

A power of attorney created before March 22, 2012 will still be valid; however, as an attorney to review it in light of the current law and consider using the 2012 statutory POA form.   In sum, UPOAA prohibits agents from performing certain acts unless the POA specifically authorizes them.  Because financial POA documents give significant powers to another person, they should be granted only after careful consideration.

To learn more about drafting a power of attorney, contact the law office of Baron Law LLC.  You will speak directly with Cleveland, Ohio attorney, Dan Baron.  Call today at 216-573-3723 to learn more about how Baron Law can help create your estate plan and power of attorney.

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Springing and Durable Power of Attorney – What’s the Difference?

Springing and Durable Power of Attorney – What’s the Difference?

When planning for retirement and your estate plan, it’s important to understand how your power of attorney works.  Generally, there are two kinds: springing and durable power of attorney.  A springing power of attorney takes affect if you become incapacitated.  In comparison, a durable power of attorney becomes effective as soon as you sign the document, and continues to be effective if you are incapacitated.

Having control with a power of attorney is a big deal.  The person holding this power may have the ability to control your financial assets, medical decision, and more.  For example, a giving someone financial power of attorney powers gives them the right to make financial decisions on your behalf.  This person might trade stocks, cash in annuities, or transfer assets.  If this person has durable power of attorney, they can make these decisions even if you are not incapacitated.   State laws differ on the particulars of power of attorney, and some financial institutions may require their own versions.

With a springing power of attorney, it’s important to clarify exactly what triggers someone taking over your abilities to make decisions.  Typically, it’s when the principal becomes disabled or mentally incompetent.  However, it could be used in a variety of situations.  For example, someone in the military might create a springing power of attorney form to be prepared for the possibility of being deployed overseas or disabled, which would give a relative powers to handle financial affairs in these specific situations only.

Who determines when someone is mentally incompetent or incapacitated?  This question varies state to state.  However, in general there is usually a formal procedure that your attorney can create.  It’s smart to note in your legal document exactly what the principal considers “incapacitated” to mean.  Often times, people who create a power of attorney form include language that requires a doctor’s certification or mental incompetence or incapacitation.

For more information regarding power of attorney and other estate planning methods, contact Cleveland estate planning attorney Dan Baron at Baron Law LLC.  Baron Law is a Cleveland, Ohio area law firm practicing in estate planning, business, and family law.  Contact Dan Baron today for a free consultation at 216-573-3723.

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What is a Trust?

Cleveland, Ohio Trust Attorney

What is a trust?  What is the difference between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust?  Why might my estate plan include either one?

Simply put, a trust helps manage your assets and provides clarity for the future.  A trust is a tool that may be used to achieve your financial goals.  There are different types of trusts for specific situations, from special needs trusts for family members with disabilities to charitable trusts that allow charitable giving while maintaining income as needed.  Trusts also fall into the categories of revocable (or living) trusts and irrevocable trusts.

Differences between a revocable and irrevocable trust

  1. Changes or modifications

An irrevocable trust generally cannot be changed or modified under any circumstances, whereas a revocable trust can be modified or revoked at the discretion of the Grantor.  However, the Grantor may maintain a special power of appointment in an irrevocable trust giving him or her the freedom to modify the beneficiaries without changing the benefits.

  1. Property ownership and asset protection

Assets placed in an irrevocable trust no longer belong to the Grantor.  The trust has its own identity.  The Grantor may still use assets for his or her benefit as specified in the trust, but he or she does not own the assets (much like leasing). Creditors cannot claim assets from the Grantor in this case, as the Grantor does not own the assets.

In a revocable trust, the Grantor retains complete ownership of the property.

  1. Estate taxes

As seen above, in an irrevocable trust, the Grantor no longer owns the property.  Thus, it is not included in the value of property at the time of death.  A revocable trust does not change ownership, and thus the value of the property would be included at the time of death. However, keep in mind the unlimited marital exclusion.  Surviving spouses may effectively pass their estate, tax free, to their spouse.  In addition, the 2016 estate tax exclusion is $5.34 million.

  1. Trustees

With an irrevocable trust, the Trustee should be an independent person chosen by the Grantor.  The Trustee should not be a family member, as this could create conflict.  However, with a revocable trust, the Grantor most often serves as the Trustee, maintaining control over the assets in the trust.

  1. Income tax effects

With an irrevocable trust, the trust is its own entity and typically has its own tax identification number and is responsible to file a 1041.  For a revocable trust, the Grantor still owns the assets and files everything on their 1040.

As seen above, the main purpose of an irrevocable trust is to protect assets.  The main purpose of a revocable trust is to avoid probate, simplifying the transfer of assets.  Determining the reason for the trust will allow the Grantor to make an informed decision about what type of trust is best for his or her situation.

And as with all legal and financial planning, laws change, so a consultation with an attorney is advised before creating a trust or any estate plan.  For more information, or to speak with an expert, contact Baron Law LLC at 216-573-3723 or email Dan@baronlawcleveland.com.