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Adding a power of attorney to your estate plan

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Estate Planning

You might already be familiar with some of the pieces that make up an estate plan, such as a will and a trust. While those are valuable estate planning documents, a power of attorney can also be a valuable part of an estate plan.

In Illinois, power of attorney is a document that gives someone the power to act on your behalf under certain conditions. For instance, if you have been incapacitated due to an injury or illness. The person you give this authority to is called your agent.

Your agent can generally make only major decisions for you. The two main types of power of attorney are medical power of attorney and financial power of attorney.

Medical power of attorney

Medical power of attorney allows your agent to make major medical decisions for you. This usually occurs in situations where life-sustaining measures are necessary.

For example, if you are in an accident and put on life support, your medical power of attorney would specify if you would want to be kept on life support or taken off. Or if you were in a coma and could not communicate your wishes, the medical power of attorney would allow your agent to decide if life-sustaining surgery should be performed.

Financial power of attorney

Financial power of attorney works the same way, except it involves financial decisions. Your agent is responsible for making financial decisions for you if you cannot. This includes making sure your bills and taxes are paid.

You can specify the specific powers your agent has. You might want them to make certain decisions but not others. For financial power of attorney, perhaps you want them to pay your bills but do not want to allow them to buy or sell real estate on your behalf.

When does power of attorney end?

Power of attorney usually goes into place once you become incapacitated. However, it is not permanent. The agent’s ability to make decisions for you typically ends once you are capable of making decisions for yourself again.

No matter what your life situation, power of attorney is usually a valuable estate planning document. Life is unpredictable and an unexpected situation can happen to anyone.