Where Should I Keep My Financial Power of Attorney?

You’ve taken the important step of having your Financial Power of Attorney prepared by an estate planning or elder law lawyer. Now, where do you keep it?

Although Ohio law says that a copy of a financial power of attorney is to be treated the same as an original, it is not uncommon for financial institutions to require the agent to present an original at least once before it will accept the document.  For that reason, ensuring that your original Financial Power of Attorney can be located is important.

If you have full confidence in the agent you are appointing in your Financial Power of Attorney (hopefully, that is the case) or your agent is already assisting you with your financial affairs, then it is best to give the original to the named agent and keep a copy for yourself.

If you don’t like the idea of the Financial Power of Attorney being in the agent’s hands until such time that you are unable to manage your finances, then you could keep the document in a fireproof safe in your home or another safe place. It is important that your agent know where it is located and how to access it in the event it is needed (for example, how to get in the home and find the key to the safe). If the document can’t be located at the time of need, it didn’t do anyone any good. Another option is to leave the Financial Power of Attorney with a third party that you trust for safe keeping until such time that you are unable to manage your financial affairs.

Remember that a Financial Power of Attorney can always be changed or revoked. Hence, if you do decide to do so, it should be a notarized document, provided to your Agents and any financial institutions which received a copy of the previous document. If financial institutions or prior agents don’t know you’ve revoked or changed your document, they will continue to reply on the prior document in their possession.

Oftentimes clients ask me if the Financial Power of Attorney needs to be filed or recorded anywhere. A Financial Power of Attorney need only be recorded if it is being used to transfer real estate. Otherwise, it need not be filed or recorded anywhere.

For more information on the  Financial Power of Attorney and other estate planning documents, their use and storage, contact a Cleveland estate planning lawyer.