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Why Power of Attorney Is Vital to Your Estate Plan

Posted on in Estate Planning

Why Power of Attorney Is Vital to Your Estate PlanYour estate plan mostly concerns instructions for what to do following your death, but there are parts of the plan that can apply while you are still alive. You may lose the ability to make sound decisions for yourself if you are suffering from a cognitive illness such as dementia or are incapacitated due to a health emergency. Who will consent to medical treatment that may help you but also carries risks? Who will manage your properties, including making sure that your bills are paid? You can assign the power of attorney as part of your estate plan to determine who is allowed to make these decisions.

What Is the Power of Attorney?

The power of attorney is a legal document that names a person or persons who will have the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. There are two types of power of attorney in Illinois:

  • The property power of attorney is the authority to make financial decisions.
  • The health care power of attorney is the authority to make health-related decisions.

You can place limits or add instructions to your power of attorney if you do not want another person to have complete discretion when making decisions while you are incapacitated. For instance, a “do not resuscitate” order could instruct whether you should be removed from life support if you are unlikely to regain consciousness. You can also choose which transactions someone is allowed to make for you.

Who Should Receive the Power of Attorney?

The person who has the power of attorney is known as an agent, and any adult can be an agent as long as they are fit to make decisions themselves. Most people choose family members to be their agents, such as their spouse or children. It is important that the person you choose is trustworthy and able to make rational decisions. You may want to choose more than one agent in case one of the people is unable to assume the power of attorney when needed.

When Does the Power of Attorney Go Into Effect?

The power of attorney document requires your signature and the signature of a witness and a notary in order to be official. The agent named in the document will assume the power of attorney when you are incapacitated or deemed incompetent, meaning you are unable to make reasonable decisions for yourself. How long the power of attorney lasts depends on the document. A durable power of attorney can last indefinitely. A non-durable or springing power of attorney is set to expire and can be as limited as allowing the agent to make one decision.

Contact a McHenry County Estate Planning Attorney

You need to be careful and thoughtful when creating a power of attorney document because it grants someone the power to make life-changing decisions for you. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, estate planning lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can make sure that your power of attorney documents is suitable for your situation. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.



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