Most Oregon residents associate incapacity with old age, but even young people in good health can be involved in accidents that leave them unable to manage their financial and medical affairs. This is why comprehensive estate plans should include documents like health care directives and powers of attorney in addition to wills and trusts. Having these documents in place provides peace of mind because they ensure that a trusted individual will make important decisions should the unthinkable happen.
Health care directives
A form can be downloaded from the Oregon Health Authority’s website that allows residents to designate a person to make medical decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated and provide detailed instructions for their end-of-life care. The form must be notarized or signed in front of two witnesses, and it is a good idea to list at least one alternate representative just in case the designated individual is unavailable in an emergency situation.
Powers of attorney
Powers of attorney are estate planning documents that give trusted individuals the authority to access an incapacitated person’s financial accounts and pay their bills. Powers of attorney can become effective when they are signed or be triggered by an event like incapacity, and they can either give trusted individuals broad authority or only allow them to make specific decisions.
Revisiting estate plans
All estate planning documents should be revisited from time to time to ensure that they still reflect the wishes of the person who drafted them. This is particularly important after major life events like marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or the death of a loved one. It is also wise to contact the individuals named on advance health care directives and powers of attorney periodically to ensure that they are still willing and able to perform the duties that could be entrusted to them.