A power of attorney is a document that grants authority to another person to make specific types of decisions for you when you are incapacitated. A power of attorney can be all encompassing, granting one individual the power to make all of your decisions. However, you may choose to create separate powers of attorney for different types of decisions, including one for property and a separate one for healthcare matters.
Property Power of Attorney
There may come a day when it is not possible for you to manage your own finances. It could be because of a declining memory or if you are suddenly incapacitated by an accident or illness. This is difficult to take-in, but it is up to you to be honest with yourself and make a plan for the worst case scenario.
You can protect yourself and your estate by creating a property power of attorney. This document does not have to give someone power over your finances right now. Instead, the power of attorney may be drafted to become effective upon your being deemed incompetent or incapacitated.
It is common to choose your spouse or an adult child as your agent. However, you do not have to pick a family member. You should designate someone who you implicitly trust with your finances and who agrees to take on this task in the future.
Health Care Power of Attorney
Through a power of attorney, you can designate a healthcare agent who will make your medical decisions for you when you cannot. Since this individual will make decisions affecting your physical health, emotional well being, and death, it must be someone you trust to choose the options most in line with what you want. This may be a spouse, child, or close friend. However, under Illinois law, your health care agent cannot be one of your physicians or other health care providers.
Creating Powers of Attorney
When you form any type of power of attorney, it must adhere to the Illinois' Power of Attorney Act. Many powers of attorney need to be witnessed and notarized at their formation to be valid. An experienced attorney can ensure you properly create a power of attorney.
Benefits and Detriments of Separate Powers of Attorney
Creating more than one power of attorney enables you to choose the best person for your separate affairs. However, this can also lead to complications. Your care and finances are likely to intersect and if your two agents do not see eye to eye, you could suffer. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you navigate these options when drafting one or more powers of attorney.
Avoid Generic Power of Attorney Forms
You can find many generic power of attorney forms online. However, these are rarely what you need. They do not take into consideration your unique circumstances, familial relationships, or future desires. It is far better to work with an attorney to draft estate planning documents that accurately reflect your wishes, including a will, powers of attorney, and other advanced directives.
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