Power of Attorney (POA)

For most people, the phrase “Power of Attorney” means very little. Even for those educated on the subject, it is easy to forget the rules and options that come with a Power of Attorney. Whether you are unfamiliar with the concept or simply need of a refresher, keep reading to learn more about this subject.
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a crucial part of an estate plan. Even if you are currently the picture of good health, you may suddenly become too ill to make decisions for yourself or become unconscious after an accident, needing someone to stand in your shoes to make those decisions for you. At that point, you either have a A Power of Attorney in place, or court proceedings will likely be required. Assigning the duty to a trusted relative, loved one, friend, or professional can help ensure your financial matters and medical decisions are taken care of and your wishes are respected.
Just as there are different scopes of authority you can give your attorney-in-fact/agent – limited duties or general – you can also choose when you want the Power of Attorney to become effective. This instrument can go into effect the moment you sign it OR with a springing POA,  your attorney-in-fact/agent will be able to act on your behalf if and only if you become incapacitated.
According to the Oklahoma Statues (click here for direct link), a valid Power of Attorney terminates when:
1. The principal dies;
2. The principal becomes incapacitated, if the power of attorney is not durable;
3. The principal revokes the power of attorney;
4. The power of attorney provides that it terminates;
5. The purpose of the power of attorney is accomplished; or
6. The principal revokes the agent’s authority or the agent dies, becomes incapacitated or resigns, and the power of attorney does not provide for another agent to act under the power of attorney.
It is important to understand that failing to properly designate someone to make your financial and healthcare decisions prior to your incapacity could lead your loved ones to court to have someone appointed through an adult guardianship proceedings. As an adult, no one is automatically able to act for you, you must legally appoint them through the use of a financial power of attorney.
If you have an exiting Power of Attorney, how old is it? Because of liability risks, banks and other financial institutions are often wary of accepting Powers of Attorney that are more than a couple of years old.  This means that if you become incapacitated, your agent may have to jump through hoops to get your stale Power of Attorney honored, if it can be done at all. This could cost your family valuable time and money.
Conclusion: Although it is not a pleasant topic to contemplate, it is an unfortunate reality that we may eventually need someone else to make decisions regarding our care and financial matters. If you already have a Power of Attorney in place, it is important to review it periodically. As an experienced estate planning attorney, I can help you put a comprehensive plan in place to ensure not only that you will receive the medical care you desire, but also that your finances are properly managed and your family members are provided for and protected. Please contact us today to set up a meeting. You may be surprised at the peace of mind you can gain by knowing that you are prepared for whatever the future holds.

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