The importance of updating a power of attorney

An important part of an Ohio estate plan is keeping it updated. This is important not just with the will but with all documents including powers of attorney. Both changes in the family and changes in the law may result in a power of attorney that needs to be revised. For example, in 1993, the Uniform Health-Care Decisions Act was approved. It has added a number of authorities to the medical power of attorney including approving admission, approving organ donation and making decisions around life-saving procedures.

A medical POA needs to contain language about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This law was passed by Congress in 1996, and it deals with giving someone the right to access another person's medical information. In 2006, the Uniform Power of Attorney Act was adopted. This deals with financial POAs and requires them to state that specific powers are being given such as the ability to make changes to a trust or to change beneficiaries.

A person should review an estate plan and POAs every two to three years in case changes are necessary. Multiple individuals should not be named on POAs because this requires them to coordinate their decision-making. However, it is generally a good idea to name a backup agent.

There are a number of other documents that should be reviewed regularly by an attorney for potential changes. For example, people may update their will and forget about beneficiary designations in their retirement accounts and insurance policies. They override instructions in a will, so people who are not careful about keeping them updated could end up leaving significant assets to a former spouse or someone else whose relationship to the decedent has changed.

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