Power of attorney is a powerful tool that confers significant authority on a person to act on behalf of another. It should only be used in well-thought-out situations and only with a trustworthy individual.

Because a person with power of attorney can make binding, life-changing decisions for someone else, you should always consult with an experienced attorney before signing any documents.

What Is the Purpose of Power of Attorney? 

Power of attorney in Illinois allows a person, known as the principal, to authorize someone else to make previously specified financial and medical decisions for them in the case of incapacitation or unavailability. It is similar to having a guardianship created for someone but will typically avoid the need for having a guardianship, which saves a lot of time and money.

Powers of attorney are created and executed by the principal when they are competent, so the person chooses who serves on their behalf. A guardianship may be appointed without the consent of the principal when incapacitated and the court decides who serves. Guardianships also require a yearly accounting to the court and having to seek court permission for certain transactions

Types of Power of Attorney 

There are two types of power of attorney instruments in Illinois: a Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Healthcare.

A property power of attorney gives broad financial and real estate decision-making powers. It is revoked when the principal It can be revoked at any time so long as the principal (ie., person giving the power) is not incapacitated. It may also be revoked through the creation of a new property power of attorney  This document terminates all authority once the person making it dies.

A healthcare power of attorney in Illinois grants healthcare decision-making powers and is often used in conjunction with other documents, such as do-not-resuscitate (DNR) documents and living wills.  This power comes into effect when a person chooses to have it come into effect. Some clients choose to not allow any healthcare decision-making until they are incapacitated but they allow the person to have access to records and doctors to help them make decisions.

This document also allows a person to indicate the circumstances by which treatment will be stopped or withheld. The power also survives the grantor’s death to deal with any issues as to funeral, burial, investigation, etc. It may also be revoked through the creation of a new healthcare power of attorney form.

How to Get Power of Attorney in Illinois 

The decision to execute a power of attorney should not be taken lightly. Before doing so, it is important to understand the ramifications of powers of attorney. Meeting with an experienced lawyer is strongly recommended.

An attorney will first listen to your needs and desires and review the facts of your situation. The guidance they provide will help you choose which type of power of attorney is the most appropriate for your circumstances.

Steps in Getting a Power of Attorney 

The first step to getting power of attorney in Illinois is to choose an agent and at least one back-up agent. The person you choose to be your agent must be:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Legally capable of making their own decision
  • Trustworthy
  • Intellectually competent to handle your issues

They should also be logistically capable of handling your decisions. For example, a friend who lives across the country and never gets time off may not be the right choice as a power of attorney agent.

The next step is to determine the scope of the power of attorney. How much decision-making power do you want to confer upon your agent? You have the choice to make the authority as broad or as limited as you like, generally speaking.

For example, if you have executed a power of attorney for property, you can specify the exact real estate transactions the agent may attend to. You may also provide guidelines for any decisions they might make. Alternatively, you may grant them broad discretion over all of your real estate decisions.

Once you have decided on the type and scope of power of attorney you desire, the next step is to draft the agreement onto statutory forms. Your attorney will help you craft a document that meets your needs and protects your interests.

Need Assistance? We’re Ready to Help 

The Law Offices of Glenn & West, LLC can provide the guidance and representation you need in power of attorney issues. Give us a call to speak with our team, learn about your options, and discover how we can help you accomplish your goals. Contact us today!