It is certainly a good idea for each of us to sign and maintain in effect a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney authorizes another person (your “agent”) to act for you in handling your financial affairs and property.
Powers of Attorney can be either “general” or “limited” in scope. It is important to decide just how much authority you are willing to give to your agent.
The most important thing in creating a Power of Attorney is to select an agent in whom you have total trust and confidence. When you create a Power of Attorney, you effectively hand the “keys to your kingdom” to your agent. Of course you can revoke your power of attorney at any time, but the revocation will only be effective going forward, it will not have retroactive effect.
In Oregon, Powers of Attorney are “durable” unless they say otherwise. This means that your Power of Attorney continues to be effective even though you may become incompetent after signing it. This is a very useful feature for many people, because it allows them to have their agent (such as a spouse or child) continue to act for them if they are no longer able to handle their own affairs.
A Power of Attorney may be written either to be immediately effective on signing; or to take effect at at a future time of upon the happening of a future event.
The agent you name in your Power of Attorney has a “fiduciary” duty to you, which means the agent must act only for your interest in exercising the authority granted by the Power of Attorney.
A Power of Attorney ceases to be effective upon the death of the person who created it.
Having a valid Power of Attorney is an important step in planning for an uncertain future. If you become incompetent and you have not named an agent under a Power of Attorney, it may be necessary to have a court appoint a conservator to handle your affairs.