A power of attorney allows you to transfer control of some or all of your affairs to another, trusted person, for either a fixed or an indefinite period of time. Durable powers of attorney usually cover financial affairs such as operating bank accounts and paying bills. Legal terminology designates the individual signing the power of attorney as the “principal” and the person who acts on his behalf as the “agent” or the “attorney-in-fact.” Chapter 127 of the Oregon Revised Statutes sets out the legal provisions for residents of the state.
Operation of a Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney has no fixed time period and therefore continues in force indefinitely, even if the person who signed it becomes mentally incapacitated. The law assumes that a power of attorney is durable if it does not specify an end date. According to Chapter 127.005 of the Oregon Revised Statutes, a power of attorney becomes effective as soon as it is signed, unless it states that it shall not come into force until a later date or the occurrence of a specified event.
Specific and General Powers of Attorney
If you sign a specific power of attorney, you give the agent the power to do one or more stated tasks: for example, operating a single bank account or completing tax forms. A general power of attorney can cover all of your financial affairs and gives the agent a wide power to carry out business on your behalf.
Powers of the Agent
You should set out the tasks to be carried out by the agent in the power-of- attorney document. Oregon does not have a statutory form of durable power of attorney, but you can obtain standard power-of-attorney forms from banks or financial institutions. If you have complex requirements, it's best to consult a lawyer regarding the exact wording to fulfill your individual needs. According to Chapter 127.045 of the Oregon Revised Statutes, an agent must use the principal’s property only for the principal’s benefit.
Revoking a Durable Power of Attorney
Although a durable power of attorney continues in force indefinitely, the principal can revoke it at any time by means of a written revocation, provided he is mentally competent to do so. The revocation should include a statement testifying that the principal is of sound mind and must refer to the original power of attorney. It should be signed by the principal. All powers of attorney end automatically when the principal dies.
Based in the United Kingdom, Holly Cameron has been writing law-related articles since 1997. Her writing has appeared in the "Journal of Business Law." Cameron is a qualified lawyer with a Master of Laws in European law from the University of Strathclyde.