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Handling parental assets without power of attorney

As the health of a parent declines, an adult child's responsibilities can become more significant. Good estate planning at a time when that parent is capable of legally executing the documents required in Ohio could prevent a great deal of stress and difficulty later on. Neglecting such planning can leave those caring for their aging parents in difficult financial and legal positions.

A power of attorney is an example of a crucial document for managing the financial and legal affairs of a parent. The establishment of joint bank accounts can facilitate matters such as having an adult child pay a parent's bills, but this is not sufficient for empowering one to take care of issues such as selling a parent's house. With a legally executed power of attorney, however, the authorized party could create a trust to manage the parent's assets and even protect these assets from being affected by extensive medical expenses.

In the case of handling affairs without a power of attorney, there are some legal avenues to pursue. A conservatorship petition could be filed. In such a case, priority will typically be given based on relationship and whether others are eligible for the role. There can be some court and probate fees involved in this type of situation, and timing could be an issue. Additionally, conservatorship involves a need for thorough record keeping. Matters such as selling a home to cover medical costs must be approved by the court as well.

Although these issues can be touchy subjects for parents and children, good planning can reduce the risk of unanticipated legal difficulties later on. Parents may want to involve their children in periodic meetings with their estate planning lawyers to ensure that questions and concerns about the children's roles and responsibilities in situations that may arise in the future are addressed.

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