Trust For Children


It is a parent’s job to raise and take care of their children. The question no one wants to think about is who would do that job if you were gone? Losing a parent is one of the hardest things emotionally a child can go through, but you can still take steps to provide for your children if you should die before they are grown. You can appoint a guardian in your will to raise your children, but you can also set up a trust to make sure the money is managed properly to provide for your children’s care.

A trust is like a basket. It is simply the vehicle for holding assets. The person who sets up the trust (the settlor) can customize the trust to handle things as she sees fit. She can name who will handle the money (the trustee), and name backup trustees in case the original trustee is unable to manage. The settlor can also name beneficiaries to the trust and decide what benefits they will receive from the trust. The settlor can also decide at what point the trust has served its purpose and will end, and when it ends who gets whatever assets may be left in the trust.

How to Spend the Money

The parent can make the trusts as strict, or as flexible as they like. Some parents choose to leave the trustee complete discretion. So if something like a trip to Europe for the child comes up, the trustee can choose to pay for it if they think it’s a good idea, or decline. Other times, the parents may say that the trust is only to be used for education, so if the same European trip came up, the trustee should pay for it only if it were deemed a study abroad educational expense.

Some parents may place conditions on what the child needs to do to inherit their share. They can say the child is entitled to inherit at age 25, or inherit at age 25 provided they have graduated from a state accredited college. If they do not graduate, they do not inherit.

The parent may say the money is to go to care for the family home so long as the youngest child is living in it, or it may simply lay out a general wish of how the settlor hopes the money will be used.

How to Hold the Money

Another question the settlor will have to decide is how the money is going to be “held.” If there is more than one child, the money may be divided into equal shares and each child has their own equal trust. When the child has used up the money in his own trust, it is gone and he cannot access his siblings’ trusts.

The other way is to set up a “Common Pot Trust” which puts all the money in one trust, and the spending on each child is based on need rather than on equivalency. In a common pot trust two beneficiaries may receive drastically different funding based on their needs. This is especially true for clients who have children born significant years apart and can help treat individual circumstances differently. There is no “primary” beneficiary so no child is required to receive any funds before or along with any other child.

Trusts are hard to think about in the abstract, so let’s look at an example:

The following illustration is for example purposes only:

Sally is a single mother, who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. She has four young children, Aiden (20), Becca (18), Carly (16), and Davey (4). Her main goal is to make sure her children are taken care of when she passes away. Her ex-husband, Matthew, is a good father, who Sally trusts to raise the children, but he is not good with money.

Sally doesn’t have much in assets when she passes away, but she did purchase a $500,000 life insurance policy for the kids when she got divorced, that she hopes will be used to care for her children’s wellbeing and education.

If She Does Not Set Up A Trust

If Sally names her minor children as beneficiaries of the Life Insurance Policy, the funds will be held by their legal guardian, and the children will have full access to their funds on their 18th birthday.

This means that Aiden and Becca would each inherit $125,000 immediately. Aiden takes a European vacation and buys a car. Becca uses some of the funds for college, but also pays for trips to the bar and shopping trips with her friends.

Carly and Davey’s share is held by their guardian, Matthew. Matthew uses the funds to care for the children, and there is some money left over when Carly turns 18, but not much. Davey’s share is spent before he is 18.

If She Sets Up Individual Funds

Sally names her sister as trustee for the funds, and sets up the trust with individual funds because she wants to treat her children “equally”. She says they can inherit when they turn 25.

Each child gets their own trust of $125,000. The trustee can only use funds from the child’s individual trust for their care and once they reach age 25 it is distributed to them.

Aiden is already in his third year of college when Sally passes. The trustee uses some of his trust to pay for his last year of college and helps with some incidental payments over the next few years but when he turns 25, he receives $100,000. He decides to take this money and go drink on a beach for a year.

Becca is just starting college, and decides she wants to go to Med school afterwards. The $125,000 is quickly spent on her undergraduate education and first year of medical school. She pays for the rest of medical school herself by going into debt, and there is nothing left to distribute when she turns 25.

Carly gets in a car accident when she is seventeen. Her trustee uses most of her funds to pay her medical bills and her rehabilitation funds. There are no funds left to help with her college.

Davey is the youngest. Over the years the trustee pays out so that he can have the same lifestyle his siblings had growing up, but the funds run out before he reaches 15.

Even though they each got equal shares of cash, equal doesn’t always mean fair. Davey was much younger than his siblings when his mother passed away, and the siblings all had mom’s support while she was alive. Sally may be rolling over in her grave at the thought of Aiden drinking his inheritance away on a beach while his siblings cannot afford to pay for their schooling or medical bills.

If She Sets Up a Common Pot Trust

If she set up the funds in a common pot trust, then the insurance money all goes into one pot of $500,000. The trustee has full discretion how to use this money. Sally can set up the direction or her wishes to the trustee to be as limited or as broad as she likes. Sally decides the primary use of the funds should be to raise Davey and for college educations. The trust will continue to provide for all four children until the youngest turns 25.

Aiden decides not to go to college. He buys a house and gets married but pays for everything himself, because the trust is intended to provide for education and Davey’s care.

Becca decides to go to college and then to med school. The trust pays $225,000 for her tuition and books over the years.

Carly decides to go to a year of culinary school. The trust pays $25,000 for her tuition.

Davey is only four when his mother passes away. The trustee pays an allowance to support Davey throughout his childhood, which costs about $210,000 until he turns 18. He decides to go to a local college with a scholarship. The trust pays $36,000 for this expense.

When Davey turns 25, there is only $4,000 left in the trust which is to be distributed equally to the four children. So they each get $1,000.

This may seem unfair to some. After all, Aiden only got $1,000 in inheritance from the trust, and Davey received $246,000. Becca and Carly both went to school for their careers but Becca received $200,000 more than Carly in tuition. On the other hand, if Sally’s main goals were to make sure Davey received the same opportunities as his siblings growing up and to provide for educational opportunities for her children, the trust accomplished it’s goal.

Which is better?

It depends on Sally’s goals. There is no one “right way” to make a trust because everyone has different goals for their children. Because of the customizable nature of trusts, saying “you have a trust” does not tell anyone what that trust does. Trusts are useful tools for accomplishing all sorts of different tasks. One very good use for a trust is for a parent to set one up to hold and manage money for young children if the parent should die before they are grown. This ensures that the parents can lay out rules and hopes for how the funds are to be used to care for their children, even after the parent is gone. Talk to a qualified estate planning attorney about how a trust could help care for your children.

Estate Plans at Any Age

Estate Plans at Any Age

The term “Elder Law” is misleading. An estate plan is a constantly evolving thing. It changes as your life and needs do. The plan you have at 18 will not be the same plan you have at age 85. A good attorney who specializes in the area of Elder Law can help you have a plan at any age to deal with life’s problems. Below is the hypothetical life span of “Sara” and some examples of planning issues that may present themselves throughout her life.

Age 18: Sara is leaving for college. She has no assets, just a small bank account in her home town. She still relies on her parents to help her handle her finances.

Even though Sara has no assets to speak of, she should execute a power of attorney for health care and finances. At this age parents are no longer legally able to handle your finances for you or able to obtain access to your medical records. A financial POA allows them to handle your money for you if you are away at college, and a health care POA allows for them to make health care decisions, should there be an accident. Sara may want to make her bank account payable on death to her parents to avoid probate.

Age 25: Sara has graduated college and is working full time. She has a small amount of assets; a car, a bank account and a retirement account. She also has some debts.

If Sara worries about leaving debts or costs of burial expenses to her family, she may want to weigh the costs of life insurance against whether she has enough assets to cover the costs. If she wishes to leave property to anyone besides her parents she will need to update her plan. Though she may not need life insurance, Sara may want to consider a disability insurance policy to protect herself.

Age 30: Sara has gotten married and is looking for a house with her new husband, John. They have just moved to a new state, but kept his house as a rental property.

Sara should update her estate plan so all her assets would pass to her new husband and he would have the power to make financial and medical decisions for her should she become incapacitated. The fact that she will have property in two states may need a revocable living trust. Also since she is in a new state, she should make sure her documents comply with local laws.

Age 35:  Sara and John are expecting their first child.

They need to update their wills to nominate someone to be guardian for their child if they were to die in a common accident. They may want to look into insurance policies to provide for the family should one of them pass away.

Age 40: Sara and John have gotten a divorce.

Sara will need to update her estate plan to reflect her new situation and exclude John. She should consider who would make difficult financial and health decisions for her if she were unable to.

Age 45: Sara is getting remarried to Sam. It is also Sam’s second marriage. Both have children from outside of their marriage.

They may want to consider a prenuptual agreement and they need to update their estate plan to decide how assets would pass should they die. Since they both have children from outside the marriage, they may want to provide for their spouse in a trust rather than a will.

Age 50: Sara’s children are still at home. Sara’s dad has passed away and Sara’s mom cannot live at home alone and would like to move in with Sara.

Sara and her mother should get legal counsel to handle her father’s estate and to look into a care plan for how Sara’s mother can move in with her without possibly jeopardizing future options of care.

Age 55: Sara’s youngest child is disabled and about to turn 18.

An attorney can help set up a disability trust for the child and help Sara become his guardian so that she can continue to make legal decisions for him.

Age 60: Sara’s mother has alzheimer’s disease and is no longer safe at home.

An attorney can help get Sara get guardianship over her mother, and help Sara find the best nursing home option for her and help Sara get her mother on Medicaid to pay for that care.

Age 65: Sara is preparing to retire.

An elder law attorney can help advise her on when she should start accepting IRA’s, Social Security, and Medicare and answer questions on how she will transition from having a constant paycheck to retirement.

Age 70: Sara’s husband Sam has been diagnosed with Parkinsons. Sara is wondering how they will pay for his care, and how it will affect her. She would like to keep Sam home with her as long as possible.

An attorney can help advise her on Medicaid, Long term care, or home services available. She can also refer Sara to proper resources that may help in this difficult time.

Age 75: Sam is getting more advanced in his disease. Sam’s illness has passed the point of Sara being able to care for him.

She needs to place Sam in a nursing home, and is wondering how this will affect her. An attorney can help her understand Medicaid or Long term care insurance if she has it. Sara needs to find out who will help her manage things now that Sam is unable to.

Age 80: Sam has passed away. Sara is lonely in the house now that Sam is gone. She can still manage well on her own but her children are concerned about her driving. She is thinking of moving in to an assisted living.

An attorney can provide information for Sara about assisted living, home services, and nursing homes. She can also discuss what Sara might do to avoid future problems should she need Medicaid one day. An attorney can also help administering Sam’s estate, collecting on life insurance policies and updating Sara’s estate plan

Age 85: Sara’s daughter has married a man Sara doesn’t trust. It has caused a great amount of tension between Sara and her daughter.

An attorney can help remove the daughter from decision making roles. Sara also may be able to set up a trust to provide for the daughter but not benefit the son in law, or disinherit her daughter entirely.

Age 90: Sara has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Sara would like to make sure that her legacy is preserved for her family, that the right people are making her health decisions. She may decide she’d like proceeds of her estate to go to benefit cancer charities, or donate her body to science. She should decide whether she wants a living will. She can learn more about prepaid funeral arrangements and hospice care.

Age 95: Sara has passed away.

Sara’s children should see an attorney for help in administering her estate.

People are unique and so are the challenges they face. There is no one size fits all in estate planning.  The plan may change as our lives do, but a good Elder law attorney can help navigate the changes life brings and help at all stages of life. The important thing is that you have a plan in place so that when a crisis arises you are prepared.

The Split Gift Plan (Curing Penalized Gifts)

Medicaid is a welfare program for poor people who cannot afford to pay for their medical care. With the average nursing home in Ohio costing over $6,000 a month, most people will become poor quickly if long term care is needed. If the person needing Medicaid is single, but has trusted family members, a split gift plan may be a good option to protect some assets while still qualifying for Medicaid.

Medicaid Basics
In order to qualify for Medicaid, the state looks at a person’s medical needs, and financial ability to pay for care. If one requires more medical care than her income can cover, then Medicaid looks at her assets to see what she could sell to pay for her care. In order to qualify for Medicaid, countable assets must be spent down to $1,500 or less. When someone has countable assets in excess of $1,500, she needs to deplete those extra assets before qualifying for Medicaid. There are only two ways to get rid of money- spend it, or give it away.

Gifting and Medicaid
The Medicaid world is made up of black, white and all the shades of gray in between. Spending money on medical care until there is no more money is in the white. Medicaid fraud is illegal and is clearly in the black. Other things fall in the gray areas, including gifting.

If you have made any gifts within the last five years (sixty months), the presumption is that these gifts were made with the intent to qualify for Medicaid. You can try to rebut this presumption, but it is important to realize that making gifts may affect your Medicaid eligibility.

To be eligible for Medicaid, you must establish that you have medical needs exceeding your income and less than $1,500 in countable assets. After you are otherwise qualified, you will then be asked if you have made any gifts within the last five years.

If you have made gifts in the past five years, Medicaid will approve “Restricted Medicaid.” This means that Medicaid will cover medical expenses, but NOT care in a Nursing Home, Assisted Living Facility or Home Waiver program during a “penalty period”. The length of the penalty period is based on the amount of the gift. Until the penalty period passes, you are required to find another way to pay for your care.

A split gift plan involves part of the gift being returned to pay for care during the penalty period. With the proper plan, usually about half of the assets can be saved. This depends on the client’s income and cost of care.

Calculating the Penalty Period
The Department of Job and Family Services will “look-back” on any gifts the client has made within the past sixty months (five years) to determine if there is a penalty period. This penalty period is measured by the number of months the client could have paid for care had she kept the money instead of giving it away. Since the average cost of care in Ohio is $6,114 per month, the penalty period is determined by dividing the total amount of the gifts by $6,114.

Let’s say that the client made a $75,000 gift within the five year look-back period to her son. The penalty period assigned would be a little over a year. ($75,000 ÷ $6,114 = 12.26 months) During that year, Medicaid would not pay for the client’s Nursing Home, Assisted Living Facility, or Home Care Providers. She would need to find some other way to pay for this care.

The date that the penalty begins is the month in which the client is “otherwise qualified” for Medicaid. This means that the penalty period will not begin until after the client’s remaining assets are reduced to $1,500 and she has made a Medicaid application.

Curing the Gift
Suppose the client exhausts her assets and qualifies for Medicaid. However, because she made the $75,000 gift to her son, she now faces the 12 month period during which Medicaid will not pay for her nursing home care. She can use her income to pay for care, but she receives only $3,500 per month and the nursing home costs $6,000. It will not cover all of her costs.

The solution is to have her son begin returning part of the money given to pay for her care. Her care costs $6,000, minus her income. Her son will need to return about $2,500 a month. At the end of nine months, about $22,500 of the gift will have been completely returned. The client can then notify Medicaid and ask that they recalculate the penalty period based on the remaining $52,500 gift. The penalty on $52,500 is only about 8½ months. ($52,500 ÷ $6,114 = 8.58) Since it now has been nine months since the penalty began, the client’s penalty period on the gift has now passed. Medicaid will start paying for the client’s care.

The remaining $52,500 that was not returned is the son’s money. The son can use that money to buy things for the client (such as personal items and other things Medicaid will not cover.) He should never give the money back to mom, as it may disqualify her from Medicaid. When the client passes away, whatever money is left with son remains with the son and is not subject to Medicaid Recovery.

Making the Gift
A split gift plan does not work for everyone. In order to even make a gift, we need to consider three things. First, if we have the right assets to make a gift. Second, if we have the power to make the gift. Third, if we have trusted people to receive the gift.

The Right Assets to Make a Split Gift Plan
Some assets work better than others in a split gift plan. If the person has less than $50,000, the money can usually be spent down very quickly and another strategy might be more appropriate. Gifting some assets may cause adverse tax consequences or penalties. Gifts do not have to be just cash. They can be a house, or a car or investments. When making gifts of real property, there can be complications in how to cure part of the gift to provide for the client’s care. Most types of property however can be gifted.

Someone to Make the Gift
In order for a split gift plan to occur, someone must be able to make the gift. If the client is competent and wants to do a split gift plan, she can make the gift. If the client is competent, but does not want to make a gift, then there will be no gift made. The client will simply pay for her own care until the money is gone and she needs Medicaid.

If the client is no longer competent, then the question becomes did she appoint an agent under power of attorney while she was competent, to whom she gave the power to gift. The POA document must specifically give the power to make gifts, or else there is no choice but to spend down the money until it is gone. If the client is no longer competent and has no POA, a guardianship may be needed. The courts will most often require the money be spent on care, and may not approve a split gift plan.

Someone to Receive the Gift
Once we know we have the power to make a gift, we look for an appropriate person to receive the gift. We also consider how the gift will be held by that person. A lot of these decisions rely on the numbers of trusted people and the client’s family dynamic.

Split gift plans do not work between spouses as Medicaid looks at a married couple a whole unit. Any gifts made to the spouse still count as an asset that could disqualify the client from Medicaid.

TOD Affidavit: Is it right for you?

Recently there has been a lot of talk about Transfer on Death Affidavits, also known as TOD affidavits. These affidavits can be a powerful tool in controlling the transfers of assets but are not appropriate for all people. In some situations, they can be a disaster. You may be wondering if you need a TOD affidavit in your estate plan. Let’s look at some different examples of how TOD affidavits work.

What is a Transfer on Death Affidavit?

A transfer on death affidavit allows an owner of real estate to designate one or more beneficiaries who will receive the property upon the death of the original owner. It is not a “deed” itself, but rather a sworn statement, filed at the Recorder’s office, that attaches to the deed stating whom the owner would like the property to transfer to upon his death. A person named as a TOD beneficiary does not have a present interest in the real estate. The beneficiary has no rights to the property until the grantor has died. At the death of the original owner, the TOD beneficiaries file an affidavit and death certificate directly with the Recorder, avoiding the probate process.

Example 1: A is married to B. A owns a house with a TOD affidavit that transfers the house to C, her child from a former marriage, upon her death. A dies.

If A is married, then the affidavit needs to include a statement by B waiving his dower rights in the house. If the statement is not included, B may have an interest in the property as a spouse and the title will not transfer free and clear to C when A dies.

Example 2: A is single. She has a TOD affidavit on her house to transfer her house to her child C. A later marries B. She dies without changing her plan.

If A has a TOD affidavit to her house, and then later gets married, the TOD affidavit effectively bars any dower right A’s subsequent spouse would have had to the property. Therefore, C would receive the property upon A’s death and B could be evicted from his home.

Example 3: A is single. B is her friend. A promises B can have the house when she dies. A puts a TOD affidavit on her house to transfer it to B upon her death. A sells the house without telling B. A then dies.

B has no rights to the property until A passes away. A is free to change her estate plan however she likes until her death or legal incapacity.

Example 4: A is single. A has a TOD affidavit that leaves the house to her child D. A takes out a home equity line on the house. A then dies.

 D inherits the house subject to the home equity line. This can affect D’s credit, if D fails to pay off the equity line.

Example 5: A is a single person with a disabled child, D. She has a TOD affidavit that leaves the house to D.

A TOD affidavit would leave the house directly to D. If D is not living in the house, this could adversely affect her public benefits. If D is unable to handle the house, it would be more prudent for A to put the house in a trust for D’s benefit.

Example 6: A is a single person with three children, D, E, and F. She has a TOD affidavit leaving the property to all three children.

Upon A’s death, not only do D, E, and F have an interest in the property, but their spouses also now have a dower interest in the property and it cannot be sold without their consent. Any creditors of D, E, or F may also claim against the property. Using a TOD affidavit to transfer a house to multiple owners can make property management difficult.  If property is held by several individuals, all decisions have to be unanimous. Each individual must agree on who will pay costs and expenses (taxes, condo fees, utilities, etc). If the property will be sold, it is wiser to allow the entire estate to pass via a will or trust, so there is one person in charge of the selling the property and distributing the money equally after the property is sold.

Example 7: A is a single person with three children, D, E, and F. She has a will or trust that lays out specifically what she would want to happen upon her death. She has a TOD affidavit with only child E.

A’s will only governs property that passes through probate. Because a TOD affidavit passes property outside of probate, the transaction is not governed by the will. Similarly, a trust governs only property that is titled to the trust. If the house is not held in the trust, the entire estate plan may change. If A had the intent of leaving everything to be divided equally among the three children, that result will not happen. Instead, the house will go directly to E, and only the remainder of the estate, excluding the house, will be divided among all three children. Child E will receive a much larger share than A intended.

While transfer on death affidavits can be very useful tools, they may not be appropriate for your personal estate plan. There is no one size fits all in estate planning. You should consult with an attorney to find out how you can build an estate plan that is carefully tailored to meet your personal needs.

Ohio’s Probate Modernization Act

Ohio’s probate statutes have been updated to bring more efficiency to the probate process and modernize the language of the law.  The new laws will apply to estates of decedents who die after January 13, 2012.  Many of the provisions are revised to make the statutes gender neutral and to update archaic language such as “lunacy”, “forthwith” and “chattels”.  Other provisions adjust time limits on certain actions; limiting the time allowed for extensions (6 months maximum), reducing the time for admitting an oral will (from 6 to 3 months) and the time one can wait to file a will without penalty (from 3 years to 1 year).  Some of the most significant changes expand or limit the rights of creditors, fiduciaries and beneficiaries.


Creditors will be entitled to question a fiduciary under oath and to receive notice of the filing of accounts.  Actions brought against the fiduciary for failure to pay debts of the estate may be transferred from probate to the General Division of the court.


Fiduciaries’ rights will be expanded to allow them to use or purchase property from an estate or trust.  Investment options will be expanded to allow a broader range of asset classes such as credit union accounts and foreign investments.  Commissioners appointed in a Release from Administration will be permitted to sell property.  Individuals who are not Ohio residents may be appointed guardian of the person.  Fiduciaries that conceal assets or fail to keep the court informed of their current address will be removed.  The new rules establish procedures to ease the process for replacing fiduciaries.


Beneficiaries will also be able to examine fiduciaries under oath.  They may be able to avoid probate in collecting the last wages of a loved one, or transferring certain real estate.  Allowing an auditor’s evaluation to be used rather than hiring an appraiser will save on estate administration costs.

 It’s important that our legislature update statutes periodically to keep pace with society’s changing needs and customs.  It’s equally important that you choose an attorney who keeps abreast of these changes. 


Ohio’s New Uniform Power of Attorney Act

 Effective March 22, 2012 Ohio’s Sub Senate Bill 117 will bring major changes to the law governing financial powers of attorney.  The new statutory form is intended to create uniformity and certainty in the way powers of attorney are construed and to provide certain protections to those who create the documents.

 General Provisions

 A power of attorney is a document in which one person (the Principal) names another person (the Agent) to act on his behalf in handling financial transactions.  The basic form provides for identification of the parties (including successor agents) and spaces to initial next to specific powers given to the agent or to give all general powers.

 Hot Powers

 Set off from the general powers are the so called “hot powers”.  Because these acts pose risks of diminishing the principal’s property or changing his estate plan, they require an express, specific grant of authority.  The “hot powers” include:

  • The power to create, amend, revoke, or terminate living trusts (provided the trust is subject to amendment by the agent)
  • The power to make gifts within certain limits
  • The power to create or change rights of survivorship or beneficiary designations
  • The power to delegate authority to someone else
  • The power to waive the principal’s right to be a beneficiary of certain annuities or retirement plans
  • The power to exercise any fiduciary powers that the principal could delegate

 Special Instructions

 The agents’ powers can be expanded even further if the principal gives special instructions above and beyond simply initialing general grants or hot powers.  For example, he can allow gifts of any size for Medicaid planning, tax planning or exonerate an agent from liability for breaching his duties.

 Special instructions can also be used to name a co-agent and to broaden or limit any of the default presumptions provided in the statute.


 Certain presumptions will apply unless the principal states otherwise.

  • The poa is presumed to be durable – that is, the agent can continue to act even after the principal is incapacitated
  • The poa is effective immediately
  • The signature is assumed to be genuine if properly notarized
  • Photocopies and electrically transmitted copies have the same validity as the original
  • The agent accepts his appointment when he begins acting
  • The agent is entitled to reasonable compensation
  • The agent is authorized to look at medical records, but not to make medical decisions
  • If more than one agent is named, each may act independently
  • Successor agents have the same power as the first agent
  • One agent is not liable for the acts of another agent


 The poa will continue until the principal or agent dies unless it is revoked by the principal, terminated by a court, the agent resigns or becomes incapacitated, or (in the case of a spouse as agent) an action for divorce or annulment is filed.  The agent must have actual knowledge of the terminating event.

 Duties of the Agent

The new law imposes four mandatory duties on agents:

  1. They must act in good faith.
  2. They must act only within the scope of authority given to them by the principal.
  3. They must act according to the principal’s reasonable expectation, if known, and if not known, in the best interest of the principal.
  4. They must attempt to preserve the principal’s estate plan unless it is not in his best interests.

 In addition, an agent must act loyally, avoid conflicts of interest, act with care, competence and diligence, keep records and cooperate with health care agents unless other written directions are given in the document.

 Judicial Relief and Oversight

 Because of the ease with which powers of attorney are drafted and the broad powers that can be given, financial powers of attorney are frequently abused to take advantage of vulnerable seniors or others with limited capacity.  Ohio’s new law addresses these issues by granting interested individuals the right to challenge the agent and require him to account for his actions before the court.

Agents concerned about the extent of their duties and liabilities may also petition the court to construe the meaning of the poa.

The following people are authorized to bring matters before the court:

  • The principal or agent
  • A guardian, conservator or executor (if the principal is deceased)
  • The principal’s spouse, parent or descendent
  • An adult sibling, niece or nephew
  • A beneficiary of the principal’s estate plan
  • Adult Protective Services
  • The principal’s caregiver or another person with sufficient interest in his welfare
  • A person who has been asked to accept his power of attorney
  • Anyone who can petition the estate administrator to petition for an accounting

 If an agent is found to have violated his duties, he must restore the principal’s property and reimburse for attorney fees and costs.  He may also be subject to civil or criminal liability for financial abuse.

 Even though the statutory “form” will be readily available, it is important to have an attorney’s assistance in customizing the document to meet your specific needs and wishes.  Agents may also wish to have an attorney’s help in understanding and fulfilling the responsibilities given.

Veterans Service Commission

Each county in Ohio has a Veterans Service Commission (VSC) to assist veterans and their families. Totally separate from the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA), Veterans Service Commissioners have two basic functions:  to provide assistance in making claims for benefits with the VA and other government agencies and to provide short term financial assistance to veterans and their families in times of need.


             The VA provides many benefits to qualifying veterans, their spouses, widows and children, but the application process is complicated and requires extensive documentation.  VSC officers and staff are fully trained and accredited by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to assist applicants in completing the forms and in gathering the appropriate documentation.  This service is provided without charge to all veterans and their families regardless of financial need.

             To qualify for veteran’s benefits, an individual must provide proof of military service, dependency, injury, or disability. The VSC can assist in gathering documents such as the veteran’s DD-214, marriage licenses, birth certificates and medical records.



             The VSC provides short term assistance to eligible veterans and their families who demonstrate a need.  This can include:

  • Food
  • Temporary housing
  • Prescriptions/medical bills
  • Utility payments
  • Security deposits
  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Employment assistance
  • Car repair
  • Transportation

To be eligible for financial assistance, the veteran upon whose service the claim was made must:

  •  have served at least 90 days of active duty
  •  been discharged under honorable conditions
  •  be a resident of the county in which he or she is applying
  •  show a financial need based on income, living expenses, medical expenses, available assets, and other special circumstances if any.


            Individual VSCs may also provide other services such as free transportation to VA medical facilities, emergency shelter for homeless veterans, transitional housing, case management, counseling, home health aides, and lifeline devices.  The Portage County VSC even has a job development and training program of its own.  The private lawncare business hires, trains and supervises veterans to give them work experience and references for future employment.

            Veteran’s Service Commissions are an invaluable resource dedicated to serving those who have served in the military.