This is the next article in my series on essential estate planning tools that I believe should be a part of every estate plan.  Contrary to widespread belief, an estate plan doesn’t have to be complex or expensive.  In many cases, simple tools can help achieve your goals.  The last article focused on one of the most important estate planning documents – the last will and testament.  As previously discussed, a will must be in writing, signed by the testator (the person making the will), and witnessed by two adults.  And, yes! A handwritten will, also called a holographic will, is valid under Oklahoma law.  But, it must be entirely written in the testator’s handwriting, and dated and signed.  It also stated the importance of hiring an experienced estate planning attorney, who can ensure that your will is drafted and executed correctly.  This article will focus on Oklahoma’s power of attorney and its creation.  If you or a loved one is seeking to draft a will, we are here to help.  Please contact us online or by telephone to get in touch with our estate planning law firm to speak to a wills and trusts lawyer.

An Oklahoma power of attorney allows another person to act on your behalf

A power of attorney is a written legal document that grants another person authority to act on your behalf.  You are called the Principal and the person who acts on your behalf is called an Agent  This tool proves useful in many situations where the Principal is unable to sign papers or make decisions.  When you are abroad for an extended period of time, unable to attend a closing of a real estate transaction or conduct financial transactions, a power of attorney comes in handy.  There are two types: a non-durable and durable power of attorney.  The key distinction is that a durable power of attorney is valid even if the Principal becomes incapacitated or is otherwise unable to make decisions.  If you execute a power of attorney by using the Oklahoma Statutory Power of Attorney Form, it’s durable, unless you specify that it is terminated by your incapacity.  A durable power of attorney is valid even if you become mentally incompetent or incapacitated and is recommended over the non-durable one.  However, it’s important to note that this document does not grant the Agent authority over healthcare decisions.  For that, a separate document called a durable healthcare power of attorney is needed, which we will discuss in the next article.

An Oklahoma durable power of attorney must be signed by the Principal in front of a notary

A durable power of attorney created using a form provided under the Oklahoma Uniform Power of Attorney Act requires the Principal’s signature and notarization.  It becomes effective upon execution unless specific instructions are given.  A document created under this law is inherently durable.  If you desire a non-durable power of attorney or would like the Agent’s power to terminate upon incapacitation, you must expressly state that in your document.  Failure to do so, while following the directions under the Act, results in the creation of a durable power of attorney.  Here is the Statutory Power of Attorney Form as per the statute.  Designating a power of attorney is an important task and it is vital to select an Agent whom you trust.  Remember, this is a person who will make decisions on your behalf, but not make the decisions in place of you.  The Agent will retain the power to act on your behalf until your passing, revocation of the power of attorney, the Agent’s resignation, or their inability to act on your behalf.

If you or a loved one require assistance with power of attorney due to extended absence, incapacity, or financial affairs, consult a reliable estate planning lawyer.  An experienced attorney can assess your situation and recommend the correct type of document.  If you are seeking assistance in executing a power of attorney for yourself or a loved one, we are here to help.  Please get in touch by contacting us online or by telephone to schedule a consultation.  We proudly serve Oklahoma County, Logan County, Cleveland County, and Grady County.