by Ryan Conklin
Wright & Moore Law Co. LPA
So much of the farm succession planning discussion centers on trusts, wills, LLCs, and other legal tools. While these instruments may garner the most attention in your discussions, there are some other documents that are equally as important: your powers of attorney.
Powers of attorney (POAs) are documents that have no bearing on what happens to your property when you pass away. Instead, POAs are used to tackle issues that arise while you are still alive, but do not have the capacity to make decisions for yourself. Let’s briefly examine each POA form.
Healthcare power of attorney
Healthcare powers of attorney (HCPOA) are used to appoint agents to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. Your agents would be able to make decisions regarding your care, potentially even remove life sustaining treatment. HCPOAs are also used to nominate guardians if you become disabled. Note, if you suffer from a diagnosed psychological ailment, you must complete a separate mental healthcare power of attorney form.
Durable power of attorney
Similarly, a durable power of attorney (DPOA) is used to appoint agents to make personal and financial decisions if you are incapacitated. This might include taxes, finances, banking, bills, real estate, businesses, and other areas. A DPOA is often very important to keep a farm operational if a key family member is incapacitated. Note, with a DPOA, typically you must use an original signed copy, whereas copies are fine for the other powers of attorney.
A living will applies when a person is terminally ill or permanently unconscious and wishes to provide instructions to his/her doctors regarding end of life care. The document instructs doctors to give you comfort care and remove life sustaining treatment if they determine you are not going to get better. A living will is completely optional and should only be completed if you do not want to be kept alive artificially under these circumstances.
Whether you are old, young, single, or married, every person should complete powers of attorney. People normally nominate family members who are communicative, organized, and trustworthy. Typically, your POAs are effective in other states, leading some people to travel with their signed forms. If you need to complete your POA forms, contact your attorney or locate free POA forms online.
Wright & Moore Law Co., LPA has a rich heritage in Ohio agriculture. Since 1988, our firm has proudly assisted farmers, rural residents, and landowners from all over the state with their farm succession planning and agricultural legal needs. We would be happy to discuss your family goals and how to meet them. To learn more about Wright & Moore or schedule a meeting, call (740) 990-0750 or visit OhioFarmLaw.com.