Estate Planning - Powers of Attorney

Business LawPowers of Attorney are part and parcel of your estate planning documents. In the event of your temporary or permanent incapacity, your power of attorney can give your designated agent the power to transact your financial and personal affairs during your incapacity. The power of attorney can be limited as to the power you are giving to your agent such as the power to sell your house. Or, the power of attorney can give all powers to your agent to transact all your financial and personal affairs. Powers of attorney in Oregon are not statutory. This means that there is no statutory form that you can pick up at a stationers store or find in the Oregon Revised Statutes.

Powers of attorney in Oregon are creatures of case law and should be drafted by an attorney who can review your assets, your current estate plan, and properly draft a power of attorney specific to your needs, your assets, and one that is consistent with your estate plan. Your attorney will also work with your various financial institutions to insure that your agent under the power of attorney will be able to work for you when you are unable to handle your financial and personal affairs. Powers of attorney can also provide for estate tax planning, such as continued gifting to heirs and devisees, as well as continued gifting to your desired charities.

If you do not have a properly drafted power of attorney you risk that it will not be accepted by financial institutions and others. If that happens the courts will require a Conservatorship. A conservatorship is a process by which a person is appointed by the court (called a conservator) to handle your financial affairs. The conservator can be a professional conservator or a family member or friend. Because the conservator must be approved by the court, setting up a conservatorship can cost several thousand dollars. The conservator, if not a professional conservator, (one in the business of handling conservatorship estates), will have to post a bond with the court. The cost of the bond is paid by the conservator and can cost several thousand dollars depending upon the size of the estate. Moreover, the conservator will also have to hire an attorney to do the annual accounting to the court. The annual accounting can cost several hundred or several thousand dollars a year. Consequently, it is vital that you have an attorney draw up a power of attorney on your behalf. It will save time and considerable expense by avoiding an otherwise unnecessary conservatorship. A properly drafted power of attorney can express a person’s preferences as to whom they wish to be their Guardian or Conservator should such a legal proceeding be required.