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What Is Power of Attorney?

When you grant someone power of attorney, you give them the legal authority to act on your behalf. Power of attorney decisions are a key part of long-term estate planning, and they cover legal, financial, and medical affairs.

The rights and responsibilities given in a power of attorney are the same as those that apply in decisions regarding guardianship and conservatorship. However, there’s one very significant difference. A decision to grant someone else power of attorney is one you make yourself. Guardianship and conservatorship are authorities that others seek on your behalf. 

By making a decision now on power of attorney, you ensure that the person you trust the most will be the one who handles your legal, financial, and medical affairs. Not acting now means a court will sort out claims to guardianship (for your medical affairs and residency) and conservatorship (for financial matters) and appoint someone that you may or may not have approved of. 

When Does Power of Attorney Begin?

Power of attorney can be granted to someone on a short-term basis, or it can be permanent. The latter, which is most common, is called durable power of attorney. Oregon law presumes that power of attorney is durable unless the authorizing document explicitly states otherwise.

The point at which power of attorney kicks in will depend on what conditions are laid out in that authorizing document. The most common reason would be that you are unable to act for yourself. Whether your disability is physical or mental will likely determine the scope of the powers that will be activated for your chosen delegate.

What Is an Advance Medical Directive?

An advance medical directive is one form of power of attorney. With an advance medical directive, your wishes for end-of-life care are known and are legally binding. The broader power of attorney that is granted to someone else will apply when any of the countless other circumstances that can’t be anticipated in advance come to fruition.

The scenarios where power of attorney or advanced medical directive come into play are far from anyone’s favorite thing to think about. But thinking about them now means your wishes can be known and respected when they happen, and that the person you trust the most can be the one making the tough decisions.

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Lexemy Law, LLC has over 15 years of experience helping people in Lake Oswego and the Portland area think through difficult situations. We approach our work with a sharp legal mind and a compassionate heart.

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