Many people often assume that a spouse or partner will be able to seamlessly take over for their financial affairs should they become incapacitated — but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Whether you become seriously ill or you become injured or disabled in an accident, there are a number of different reasons to have a plan in place. For situations like this, Oregon law provides that you can name someone to be your voice for major decisions, both medically and financially, through a power of attorney.
Executing a power of attorney as part of a will is common, but sometimes the power granted is solely for medical decisions. You also may need to designate someone to look after your financial matters should you become unable to do so.
Different types of powers of attorney authorize the agent you designate to make different types of decisions for you. That’s why it is so important for anyone who is considering establishing a power of attorney to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney before starting the process. If you live in or around Salem or Lake Oswego, Oregon, Bearman Law will put the best interests of you and your family first when planning for the future. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call today to set up a free consultation.
The person who executes a power of attorney is called the principal, while the designee becomes the agent. The agent you name can be a family member or close personal friend, but most importantly, should be someone who understands your situation, desires, and needs.
Some people may be initially fearful of creating a power of attorney because it seems like turning your life over to someone else. However, powers of attorney can be limited in scope and established so that the powers granted are only triggered under very specific circumstances, such as the principal’s inability to manage his or her own affairs due to issues related to their health or age.
When you limit the powers granted to the agent, the document is known as a specific power of attorney, as opposed to a general power of attorney. A general power of attorney grants full decision-making rights in all matters to the agent, including banking, buying and selling property, and making investments on your behalf.
Additionally, unless you set an end date for the powers delegated, the document becomes durable — meaning that the agent can exercise their power of attorney rights indefinitely. You can also establish a temporary power of attorney, for instance, in times when you will be traveling overseas and will not be fully able to monitor your affairs.
While physically and mentally able, the principal retains the right to exercise every decision on his or her own behalf, even with a general power of attorney. Also, the principal can revoke the power of attorney at any time. Regardless, all powers of attorney cease upon your death, when the person named executor in your will or trust takes over.
A written will or trust can make known and enforce your desires regarding important medical decisions. Common areas broached include resuscitation if your heart stops; pain medication usage; use of breathing and feeding machines; and organ and tissue donations.
While a will or trust can make your wishes known in a variety of health scenarios, you will likely also need someone who can make all of the necessary financial decisions with regards to paying for your hospital stay. This is where a power of attorney becomes essential. Additionally, since it is extremely difficult to cover every health contingency in a will or trust, you will likely need someone you trust to make any unforeseen medical decisions for you.
As you can see, establishing a power of attorney is an integral part of any strategic estate plan. A will or trust is often the essential building block, but designating who can make decisions – financial, medical, or otherwise — is equally as vital. This is where the power of attorney comes in.
At Bearman Law, our legal team is dedicated to helping families in Salem, Lake Oswego, and the Willamette Valley plan for the future. Our focus is to see that you and your family are able to protect what matters most and preserve a successful future for years to come.
Our estate planning attorneys will focus on protecting your assets to keep your family safe and secure long after you’re gone. If you’re considering establishing a power of attorney or setting up a more comprehensive estate plan, contact our office today for a free consultation.