On November 1, 2021, the Oklahoma Uniform Power of Attorney Act was signed into law. This new legislature makes one significant change to the ability of Oklahoma citizens to create Power of Attorney forms. This change is effective for all Power of Attorney forms created from here on out, changing the long-term healthcare planning landscape in the state.
A Power of Attorney form gives someone else permission to act on your behalf if you are incapacitated. It is created by you for a specific individual, giving them your permission to access your bank account, check your medical records, and make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are alive but incapacitated. It is normally created in conjunction with an Advanced Directive form, where you can make your own wishes clear about your own healthcare decisions later in life.
The new Uniform Power of Attorney Act removes the ability for anyone else to make healthcare decisions for you. The Power of Attorney will still allow someone of your choosing to access your bank to pay for your healthcare and act as your personal representative, but they can no longer make healthcare decisions for you while you are incapacitated. In fact, the new Power of Attorney form makes a point to state that they are explicitly not allowed to do that.
This change leaves Oklahoma residents with little option to legally elect someone they trust to make healthcare decisions for them. They can still make an Advanced Directive, which has an element of representative healthcare, but the main point relates to the individual’s wishes regarding life-saving measures in the event of an emergency.
In fact, filling out an Advanced Directive is now more important than ever. Before, individuals who had completed a Power of Attorney but not an Advanced Directive were trusting their loved ones to make those decisions as they would have wished. Now, there are no healthcare representative options available without a Healthcare Directive.
Now and going forward, all new Power of Attorney forms created will not allow the creators to let their loved ones make healthcare decisions for them. All Power of Attorney forms that were already created and legally valid before November 1, 2021 will remain so, but no new ones can be created with the provision. For those without it, creating an Advanced Directive and a thorough Estate Plan are more important than ever.Stay tuned to our Blog for any future updates on major changes affecting healthcare, probate, and Estate Planning. For help with creating a Power of Attorney or Advanced Directive, contact Pence Law Firm, P.C. today! We believe in giving honest advice and working hard to protect your rights.