A Power of Attorney (“POA”) is an important estate planning tool used to allow a trusted friend or relative to act on your behalf if you become mentally or physical unable to handle your own financial and health care decisions. A POA is a great alternative to the guardianship process which entails additional time, cost and the involvement of the local Probate Court. POAs are an essential part to any estate plan, but most powers of attorney end at death. However, an often overlooked POA can serve as a very powerful tool after your death as well.
Under Ohio law, one POA that survives death is called a Declaration for Funeral Arrangements or Disposition of Bodily Remains (“Declaration”). A Declaration allows you to appoint a representative to make funeral arrangements, including burial or cremation services. While most people do not enjoy discussing these types of decisions, a Declaration helps ensure your final wishes will be honored by your family who are facing the recent loss of a loved one.
In a Declaration, your representative acts on your behalf according to your preferences and instructions detailed in the document, which even identifies the source of funds that could be used to pay for your burial expenses. If you are concerned that your nearest relative will not honor your burial wishes, you can appoint a representative under a Declaration and that person will be responsible for your funeral arrangements. The ability to appoint someone to carry out your last wishes is vital to preventing one final and emotional fight about how to celebrate and honor your life after you pass.
No matter what stage in life you currently find yourself, it is more than likely that it is time for you to review your estate plan to determine what, if any, new issues need to be addressed to properly handle your family’s current situation. Contact us to discuss what the next step is to ensuring that you have provided for your family’s future properly.