Power of Attorney in Oklahoma
With a Power of Attorney, you, the “principal,” give another person, the “agent,” authority to act on your behalf. It is a written, legal document you can use to empower an agent to buy and sell real estate, make financial transactions and decisions, and, among other things, make health care decisions on your behalf. This power can be made to last even if you were to become incapacitated. A Power of Attorney is a valuable legal tool and can be put in place during the estate planning process.
Power of Attorney Types in Oklahoma
There are different types of Powers of Attorney that serve different purposes and come with different restrictions. To put a Power of Attorney in place, you must choose an agent and choose what type of power of attorney you need. The purpose of the Power of Attorney may effect who you want for your agent as some people are better suited to certain tasks than others. You can either execute a General Power of Attorney which gives broad powers or a Limited Power of Attorney which can limit what your agent can do to something like a specific act. You also have the ability to choose if you want the Power of Attorney to come into effect immediately or “springing” meaning at the needed time.
A Durable Power of Attorney gives legal authority to the “attorney-in-fact” or “agent” to make decisions for you when you are incapacitated. This means it is like a General Power of Attorney, but it does not terminate in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated. A Durable Power of Attorney only ends at death. It also must be put in place before you are incapacitated, while you are of sound mind, and it must include the required statutory language to be effective. The Power of Attorney must explicitly state that it will not be affected by “subsequent disability or incapacity of the principal, or lapse of time” or that the power of attorney will become effective “upon the disability or incapacity of the principal.”
A Health Care Power of Attorney gives the agent authority to make health care and end-of-life decisions on your behalf. It is like the Durable Power of Attorney in the way that it does not end if you become incapacitated, but it is only for a specific purpose or circumstance. The agent may need to consent to medical procedures on your behalf. The agent may also need to make the decision of when to take you off of life support. You can grant the agent complete or limited authority over your health care decisions. Decisions regarding life sustaining treatment may only be made by the agent if the Power of Attorney complies with state requirements for a health care proxy. A health care proxy on its own is only effective if you enter into a persistent unconscious or vegetative state and relates only to the immediate needs of such a situation.
A Limited Power of Attorney grants the agent restricted authority. The authority may be limited to specific things, for a specific time period, or under specific circumstances. For example, if you need to leave your child with a relative or another caretaker for an extended period of time, you can create a Limited Power of Attorney for the caretaker to consent to any medical care your child may need in your absence. You may also need a Power of Attorney if you or your spouse cannot be present at a real estate closing. An older relative or person with a serious illness may want someone else to conduct business for them or handle financial matters on their behalf. The Limited Power of Attorney expires at the time specified. If no termination time is specified, the power will automatically end if the principal dies or becomes incapacitated.
A General Power of Attorney grants broad authority to the agent. Under a General Power of Attorney, the agent has the ability to do whatever you could legally do yourself. Because of the far-reaching power that comes with a General Power of Attorney, give serious consideration before putting this in place and selecting an agent. With a General Power of Attorney, your agent has the power to buy and sell property, mortgage your property, and close and open financial accounts all in your name. A General Power of Attorney ends should the principal die, become incapacitated, or revoke the Power of Attorney.
Selecting a person you trust to make important decisions related to things like health care and end of life care is the best way to ensure your wishes are always carried out and expressed even when you lose the ability to speak them yourself. It is just one of the many things that can be achieved by using a Power of Attorney.
There are two ways a Power of Attorney can be terminated:
- At the death of the principal (person creating the Power of Attorney) OR
- When the principal revokes the Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is not just for use when you are incapacitated but it can also be used when you are in situations that you need someone to make decisions for you.
- Making a long trip overseas
- Military Deployment
- Upcoming medical condition or treatment that may cause an absence