Financial Power of Attorney (FPOA) is a legal document. It gives someone else (called your "agent") the right to make your financial, business and real estate choices when you can’t. FPOAs are often used by people who can’t manage their finances because they are incapacitated by health problems. This is different from a healthcare power of attorney, where you select someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are not able to because you are very hurt or sick.
Creating a FPOA
While you are competent:
- Choose an agent. An attorney-in-fact or “agent” is an adult who can make your financial choices when you can’t. It is very important to choose someone that you trust. You should also talk to the person you pick to make sure that they’re willing to serve as your agent.
- Fill out the FPOA form. Read it carefully and initial next to the rights you want your agent to have. Examples include rights over your real estate, “tangible property” like cars, bank accounts or your government benefits.
- Sign the form. Sign the form. If your FPOA gives rights to buy or sell land, you must also notarize it and file it at the recorder’s office in the county where the property is located.
Your FPOA options
You can customize your FPOA by choosing its:
- Powers. You can give your agent power over all of your finances or only certain parts. You can also write down specific wishes or directions for your agent. Your agent is required to make decisions that align with these wishes.
- Timeline. A regular FPOA (also called a "durable" financial power of attorney) is active immediately, and will continue to be active if you become incapacitated. A springing FPOA is active after a specific date or event. For example, some people write into their FPOA that it is only active if they become incapacitated. That means that you cannot understand or respond to questions about your finances. Your FPOA can include an expiration date, or it can continue until you die.
If you are setting up your FPOA in preparation to enter a long-term care facility, there may be more detailed information that you'd like to include in the form's "Special Instructions." Pro Seniors provides information on special clauses that may be helpful in their Financial Power of Attorney Toolkit.
Consider speaking with a lawyer. A lawyer can help you understand your needs for a FPOA and make sure that the document does everything that you want it to.
Ending your FPOA
If your situation changes, you can always end a FPOA. To end your FPOA, follow these steps:
- Complete the FPOA revocation form.
- Sign, date and notarize the statement.
- Give the notarized statement to your agent and any banks that might have a copy.
- If your FPOA gives rights to buy or sell land, file the cancellation in the recorder’s office where the FPOA was originally filed.
You should prepare all of these documents before you need help making decisions.
- Estate planning documents. This includes wills and transfers on death. This documents help make sure that your money and property go where you want it to after you pass away.
- Advance directives. In Ohio, there are several documents, including a Healthcare Power of Attorney and a Living Will that let you designate your wishes about healthcare and who can make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself.