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Lessons in the Law October Report

October 7, 2020

It’s Not About Who You Know

Just as you wouldn’t ask a urologist to perform open heart surgery, a criminal attorney shouldn’t be the one that handles your will, trust, or powers of attorney. The seemingly simple step of executing a healthcare power of attorney can pose serious complications for the person who doesn’t know the ins and out of Ohio law.

I recall the story of a client who was prepping for surgery and decided to get his affairs in order in advance. His wife told a criminal lawyer friend in New Jersey about what she and her husband were planning to do, and he offered to save her a little money by doing the work himself. Prior to his surgery, the man became unexpectedly ill and it was then that the family discovered that the criminal lawyer friend had used the wrong power of attorney forms. Essentially the forms he used negated everything the family wanted and they weren’t valid in Ohio. It was a mess and they had to wait until the man was well enough to update the documents. Fortunately, the man recovered, but that’s not always the case.

Holidays are a good time to review your estate planning situation with the family. Since everyone is likely to be gathered together, review with your loved ones which documents you have, which ones you might need, where they are located, and how they can be accessed.

Atty. John J. Urban

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