The Power of Attorney is one of the more important estate planning tools that you can have. Through this legal document, you’ll appoint a person, typically a close relative, to help handle your affairs or take care of what you’re not able to do (when you’re not able to do it). Generally, a power of attorney is related to financial or medical matters, and they go into effect in the event of your mental incapacitation.
At James C. Provenza & Associates, P.C., we’ve helped many individuals in the Chicago area with their power of attorney and estates. It is important to make sure that your power of attorney is thorough and complete, accounting for a wide variety of situations and potential issues. If you’re setting up your power of attorney in Illinois, make sure to call Chicago estate planning attorney James C. Provenza today at (847) 729-3939.
Do You Need a Power of Attorney?
Before answering, “Do I need a power of attorney?” It can be helpful to ask, “What is a power of attorney?” To answer the latter question, a power of attorney is, simply, a legal document that allows another person to handle financial matters, make health care decisions, or care for your children. As such, there isn’t a type of person or a situation that necessitates a power of attorney; this document basically lets you take control of your financial and health decisions even if you aren’t mentally capable of doing so.
If you don’t have a power of attorney, and are rendered mentally incapacitated, then the court will have to appoint a guardian or conservator to handle your affairs.
Who Will Serve as the Power of Attorney Agent?
When setting up your power of attorney, one of the first decisions you have to make is choosing your power of attorney agent. Ideally, you want to choose someone you trust to handle your affairs. Also, it’s a good idea to make sure that your agent has a little expertise regarding financial or health affairs. The agent should also have enough time to attend to these duties and is likely to remain committed.
In addition to the agent, you should also consider the alternate or successor agent, just in case the first agent is unwilling or unable to do the job. In any case, you should make sure to explain what may be required of your agent and ensure that he is aware of the responsibility. You should inform your agent as much as possible before naming him/her as your representative.
Drafting the Power of Attorney Document
After choosing your agent, the next step is to create and draft the actual legal document. It is at this stage where an attorney can be especially useful, whereas you and your attorney can use federal and Illinois documents to get the bulk of the power of attorney completed. A power of attorney document must be in writing, regardless of the forms used to create the document. It must also be signed, witnessed, and notarized.
Depending on the details of the power of attorney, you may need to file it with the government (if the document contains wishes related to taxes) or with the county recorder (if the document contains wishes related to real estate). You should store the document in a safe place, and make sure to give copies to your agent and successor agents, as well as family members and the appropriate institutions.
Continued Assessment of Your Power of Attorney
As you age, your medical situations change, you go through different milestones in life, and you evolve your finances, it’s essential to consider whether your current power of attorney is appropriate, or if you need a new one. You can change or revoke the power of attorney at any time, which includes changing the agent. If changing anything, however, you should consider drafting a whole new document.
Contact Estate Planning Attorney James Provenza
Chicago IL estate planning attorney James C. Provenza has helped many individuals with their estate planning needs and their power of attorney documents. Through careful listening, expert knowledge of federal and state laws, and more, attorney Provenza can create a solid power of attorney while representing your case. For a free, no-obligation consultation with our Chicago-based law practice, call us today at (847) 729-3939.