A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf if you become incompetent of incapacitated. The Oregon Revised Statutes set forth the requirements for a valid power of attorney, who may serve as your agent and how the power of attorney may be used.
In Oregon, a person, known as the principal, uses a power of attorney to permit another person, known as the agent, to make certain decisions on his behalf. However, a power of attorney cannot be used for medical decisions. For that purpose, a person would need to sign an advance directive for health care. With a power of attorney, the principal can choose an agent to manage his finances if he becomes unable.
The responsibilities granted to an agent can be vast or very limited, at the principal's discretion. Because of this, the agent you choose should be someone you trust, such as a family member or a close friend. In Oregon, an agent must agree to serve. Inform your agent of your intentions and make sure she is willing. It is also important to make sure your agent knows exactly what she is authorized to do. For example, your power of attorney may give her complete control over your finances, allowing her to buy and sell property, make withdrawals and deposits from all of your bank accounts, pay bills and make investments.
In order to be effective, a power of attorney must be signed in accordance with the requirements set forth in the Oregon Revised Statutes. This means the document must be in writing and clearly express the powers an agent will or will not have. Finally, the principal must sign the power of attorney in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses serve an important function by confirming the principal's identity and the fact he is competent at the time of the signing.
Once a power of attorney takes effect, it remains in effect for the duration of the principal's life unless revoked. The agent's power terminates upon the principal's death. However, the principal is able to revoke his power of attorney at any time until he is declared incompetent. Revocation occurs when a principal communicates his intentions orally or in writing or signs an updated power of attorney. In addition, if the principal's spouse is his agent and they divorce, the agent's power is automatically terminated.