By: Janice Dantes
With COVID-19 impacting our lives, I am receiving more inquiries about estate planning. Most people know about wills. Fewer people know about powers of attorney. Powers of attorney allow you to appoint an agent to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself. This may include if you are in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, are in a coma, or suffering from other mental or physical ailments. If you recover and are able to make decisions again, you can then regain decision-making control.
Below are the two kinds of Powers of Attorney in Illinois:
1. Power of Attorney for Healthcare. The Power of Attorney for Healthcare allows you to appoint an agent to make healthcare decisions when you are not able to make them for yourself. This document allows you to appoint an agent and successor agents if your agent is unable or unwilling to carry out your wishes. You can share with your agent the authority to make medical decisions when you are unable to. This may include your wishes about resuscitation and if you want your organs donated. This document required your signature and one witness. Also, be sure to execute this document when you have your full faculties to avoid any suspicions of undue influence.
2. Power of Attorney for Property. The power of attorney for property allows you to appoint an agent to make financial decisions when you cannot make them for yourself. This is important because if you are in a coma, you want to be sure someone has authority to pay your bills and mortgage so your property does not go into foreclosure. You may have seen this document if you purchased a home and could not be present at the closing. The agent and successor agents for this document can be the same as power of attorney for healthcare. They can also be different.
This document needs to be signed by two witnesses and notarized because it involves the authority to transfer property. Further you can give your agent broad authority or limit their authority to make financial decisions (perhaps you don’t want them to touch your stocks or sell your home). These documents are never used if you die without being incapacitated. But no one knows how they will go. Also, there are many other estate planning tools. If you have questions about powers of attorney, please contact me at (312) 546-5077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further, the Filipino American Lawyers Association will be providing pro bono services in the completion of powers of attorney for first responders. If you are interested in learning more, you can call as well.