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Every adult should have a power of attorney

Every adult should have a power of attorney

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When she was 26, a Chicago resident was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. WGNTV reports that now, at 41, the cancer is back and the woman worries about how her children will handle her end-of-life concerns.

The woman was reluctant to appoint one of her children as her power of attorney, as she herself had to care for her own mother, who died of cancer.The woman’s home health care advocate convinced her to put her wishes in writing, which the woman says has brought her peace of mind.

Any estate planning lawyer in Arlington Heights would recommend that every adult in Illinois and across the country get a power of attorney. Understanding what that means will help people select the right designee.

What is a power of attorney?

The Illinois Power of Attorney Act provides residents with the ability to appoint someone who can make decisions on their behalf. Those decisions could include any of the following:

  • Financial matters such as paying bills, watching investments and collecting benefits
  • Property decisions like selling a home
  • Health care issues regarding end-of-life treatment options

The power of attorney takes over if the person becomes ill or otherwise unable to make these decisions. Without putting this agent in place, someone’s family will have to go to court in order to get the authority to manage items such as financial affairs.

Who should be appointed?

In Illinois, any adult who is competent can serve as a power of attorney. An estate planning lawyer in Arlington Heights would recommend that people choose an agent who is trustworthy and dependable. It may also be wise to choose someone who lives nearby and would easily be able to tend to important matters. People should have an agent and a backup who could serve in that role should the initial choice be unable to do so.

Prior to appointing a power of attorney, people should have conversations with their designees to ensure they are willing to do the job. This is also a chance to share end-of-life wishes and any other important matters with the agent.

Key considerations

Powers of attorney typically go into effect the moment the documents are signed. Industry experts advise Illinois residents to make their financial power of attorney durable, which means it will be effective even if the person becomes incapacitated.

As lives go on, situations change and there may be a need to make amends to the power of attorney. A durable power of attorney will end in the event of a divorce in which the spouse was noted as the agent. It is also possible to revoke the document at any time, or a court could deem it is invalid if the person was deemed incompetent when it was signed.

These decisions should not be taken lightly, as they will be crucial to ensuring that someone’s wishes are kept. People who have not yet appointed an agent should consult with an estate planning lawyer in Arlington Heights.

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