Life can be unpredictable. But you can plan for the unpredictable. For example, if you become incapacitated, there are important decisions that must be made on your behalf. Who is going to make medical decisions for you and authorize treatment? Who is going to pay your bills and manage your finances?
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a document recognized by the law in Illinois to give a designated person (called an agent) authority to make specific decisions in the event you become incapacitated. To create a valid power of attorney, you must create it while you still have the mental capacity to do so. In other words, it is not a power that can be granted if you have already become incapacitated. And I cannot stress this enough: The person you designate to be your agent must be someone you absolutely trust.
Common Types of Power of Attorney
Illinois has statutes recognizing several types of decisions that can be designated through a power of attorney. Among these are a medical power of attorney and property power of attorney. A medical power of attorney allows you to specify what sort of medical decisions you want your agent to make for you, such as speaking with your medical providers, reviewing records, and making treatment decisions. A property power of attorney allows your agent to make virtually any property-related decision or decision relating to your financial affairs, unless you limit those powers.
Should I Hire an Attorney?
Creating a power of attorney does not require an attorney. In fact, there are many organizations and websites that offer online forms for whatever power of attorney you are seeking to create. You can download and fill out these forms yourself. However, I would advise that you strongly consider consulting with an attorney.
- Due to the types of power of attorney and the scope of the decisions that an agent can make, you can inadvertently give someone a lot more decision making power than you intended. For example, if you only want your agent to pay your bills, you must be sure that your power of attorney document sets the proper limits. Otherwise, your agent could have the ability to significantly alter your estate.
- The state of Illinois has technical requirements regarding a valid power of attorney, such as having at least one qualified witness to your signature, as well as a notary. There are specific people who cannot be a witness, to ensure the integrity of the document.
- Illinois prescribes specific language that must be contained in a statutorily-recognized power of attorney document; an attorney can make sure that you comply with state’s requirements.
- There are legal methods of challenging a power of attorney that an actual attorney can advise you about and guide you through.
- An attorney can keep a physical copy of any power of attorney documents so that if you become incapacitated, your loved ones can immediately know who to contact and where to locate this document.
Let me guide you through the process of creating a power of attorney. For decades, I have assisted clients in planning their estates. I will approach your needs in a thoughtful and thorough manner and I will ask you the right questions so that we can create legal documents that meet your specific goals. Call the Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas at 847-392-5893 or visit our website to set up a consultation online.