Power of Attorney Guidelines for State of Oregon

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

Power of Attorney Guidelines for State of Oregon

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

Oregon allows an individual to create a power of attorney, a legal document that formally grants one or more individuals, called agents, the authority to act on behalf of another person, called a principal. A principal might draft a power of attorney for any number of financial, medical, or business reasons.

Man writing on paper

Scope of an Oregon Power of Attorney

Oregon law allows principals to grant agents broad authority to manage the principal's financial affairs, in the case of a general power of attorney, or to limit the agents' power to certain types of financial transactions, with a limited power of attorney. For example, a principal might grant an agent the power to manage a single bank account on their behalf without granting any other powers to that agent. A principal who deals in real estate might grant an agent the power to sign closing documents on their behalf.

Oregon also allows principals to draft powers of attorney that only become effective in the case of a specific event, such as an inability to manage financial affairs. A power of attorney that becomes effective in this manner is called a "springing" power of attorney, as it springs into effect. An Oregon power of attorney that does not specifically include an effective date becomes effective immediately upon the principal's signature.

Powers of attorney must be in writing, express the principal's desire to appoint one or more agents to act on the principal's behalf, and bear the signature of the principal. However, Oregon does not require that powers of attorney take a particular form. Oregon does not require witnesses to the power of attorney, but significant discussion among legislators has taken place about adding a witness requirement.

Termination Date

By default, powers of attorney in Oregon are long-lasting. Unless they specify otherwise, Oregon powers of attorney are durable, meaning that they continue to be effective after the principal has become incapable of managing their own finances—for example, if the principal has an illness that has rendered them unconscious. Similarly, by default, an Oregon power of attorney continues to be effective until the principal's death, unless the document specifies a termination date or the principal executes a document revoking the power of attorney.

Oregon law also specifically prevents people from refusing to honor a power of attorney based solely on the length of time since its creation. For example, a bank cannot refuse to grant an agent the authority to act under an otherwise valid power of attorney merely because the principal signed it 20 years ago. Although many things may have changed in that time, the document is still valid if the principal hasn't revoked it.

The broad default rules for Oregon powers of attorney make it very important for principals to consider the intended purpose of the powers granted and then draft documents that detail them specifically. A principal in Oregon who doesn't want their power of attorney to be durable or to continue indefinitely must include language in the power of attorney that restricts the duration of the power of attorney in the manner they desire.

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