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Attorney Nicholas G. Farha

Do you need a power of attorney?

On Behalf of | May 17, 2024 | Estate Planning

Setting up a will is a wise decision. With a will in place, you have the peace of mind knowing that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes after you pass away.

You might consider some other documents to complete your estate plan. While a will covers what happens after you pass away, what happens if you become unable to make decisions while you are still alive?

A power of attorney takes care of this issue. This is a legal document that allows a third party, known as your agent, to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make certain decisions for yourself.

While a will takes effect upon your death, a power of attorney becomes effective when or if you become incapacitated. Once you pass away, the power of attorney is void.

How a power of attorney can help

There are many benefits to having a power of attorney. It relieves your family members and loved ones of the burden of wondering what you would like done in difficult situations, such as if you are on life support or require a life-saving technique to be performed, such as CPR.

Additionally, a power of attorney prevents disputes among family members about who should make this decision since the person was designated well in advance.

Without a power of attorney, an Oklahoma court will likely appoint an agent for you. This could be someone you would have never wanted to make decisions for you or someone you barely know.

There are two types of powers of attorney available. Both serve different functions.

Medical power of attorney

A medical power of attorney allows your agent to make major medical decisions on your behalf. As in the above examples, your agent would communicate your wishes in situations involving major medical decisions.

It is important to note that a medical power of attorney is not meant for minor medical procedures or decisions. Whether to take you off life support or amputate a limb are appropriate matters for a medical power of attorney; whether to undergo minor surgery or have a yearly exam are not.

Financial power of attorney

A financial power of attorney allows your agent to make financial decisions and keep your financial affairs in order if you are incapacitated. Your agent makes sure that your bills and taxes remain paid and

Your powers of attorney can be short-term. You can designate someone as your financial power of attorney if you are going to be unable to take care of your finances for a certain period, such as if you are overseas without access to your accounts.

Likewise, a medical power of attorney generally becomes active when you become incapacitated or a determination is made that you cannot make or communicate medical decisions yourself. If you are later deemed competent and can communicate, the power of attorney becomes void again.

Although having a power of attorney can be a good idea, selecting an agent is a major decision. Your agent should be someone you trust to make these major types of decisions for you. You should give this decision plenty of thought.