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Establishing a power of attorney in Illinois

Establishing a power of attorney in Illinois


Many people in Chicago, Illinois, worry about the possibility of becoming incapacitated and incapable of looking after their own affairs. One action that can bring individuals and their families peace of mind is establishing a power of attorney.

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows an individual to appoint an agent to make decisions on his or her behalf in the event of incapacitation.

If an individual becomes incapacitated before drawing up a power of attorney, relatives may have to go to court to have a conservator or guardian appointed. This process can be costly, time-consuming and stressful for loved ones, and the ultimate outcome may go against the wishes of the incapacitated individual. Establishing a power of attorney ensures that someone trusted is authorized to make financial and medical decisions if the need ever arises.

Different powers of attorney 

There are two types of power of attorney: medical power of attorney and financial power of attorney. Individuals can usually benefit from creating separate documents for each power of attorney, even if the same person is being named as the agent. A medical power of attorney is assumed to be durable, but a financial power of attorney may be durable or non-durable.

A durable power of attorney allows an agent to make decisions while the principal, or the person who established the power of attorney, is incapacitated, as judged by a physician. A non-durable power of attorney becomes invalid when the principle becomes incapacitated. This option is typically only used for specific tasks, such as a real estate closing. Individuals who want to provide for their eventual incapacity will need to draw up a durable power of attorney.

The legal process 

To establish a power of attorney, an individual must access and complete the official state form. The form Illinois uses allows the principal to specify what the agent is authorized to do and what limitations the agent must observe. The principal can also specify whether the power of attorney is effective for a limited period of time. If no specifications are made, the agent can use his or her authority throughout the principal’s lifetime, even before incapacitation occurs. To make the document official, the principal and agent must both sign the form with a notary public as witness.

It is not strictly necessary for an attorney to advise the principal or oversee the establishment of the power of attorney. However, individuals who have substantial assets or property can benefit from working with an attorney. An attorney can make sure any special provisions are legally sound and help protect the principal’s assets and interests against mistakes or intentional abuse.

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