In 2016, Ohio law pertaining to General Durable Powers of Attorney (“GDPOA”) (also known as General Powers of Attorney and Financial Powers of Attorney) was amended to require certain powers (that were generally already included in a GDPOA) to be “specifically authorized” in order for your agent to take those actions on your behalf.
These specific powers are what we refer to as “hot powers” because they are significant powers that give rise to abuse more often than the other powers authorized under the terms of a GDPOA. These powers include the authority to:
– create, amend or revoke an inter vivos trust;
– make a gift or continue any pattern of gift giving you may have established during your life (such as gifts to children, grandchildren, charities, etc.);
– waive non-employee spousal rights on retirement plans for your spouse;
– create or change a beneficiary designation on your assets;
– create or change rights of survivorship on any assets; and
– delegate authority granted under the GDPOA.
It is important to make certain these powers are included in your GDPOA because these powers give your agent the maximum amount of flexibility and authority, which will ensure that they are able to act on your behalf in any way they may need to without limitation. These are significant powers, so it is important to only name a person(s) to serve as your agent if you trust them to act only in your best interest.
However, these powers are optional, meaning you can authorize your agent to take any of these actions on your behalf, you can authorize some but not all, you can authorize none, or you can even authorize one named person but not the other (for example, you may authorize your spouse to take these actions on your behalf, but not your best friend, adult children, parents, etc.).
If you have a GDPOA that you executed during or before 2016, or if you need to prepare a power of attorney and/or other estate planning documents for the first time, the attorneys at Thomas Law Group can review your GDPOA and other estate planning documents, make recommendations for updating, and complete new drafts that are in compliance with Ohio law.