Aging and the end of life are inevitable. Almost everyone will become old and their mind and body will eventually begin to deteriorate. This is why at some point, nearly everyone will need a power of attorney to act on his or her behalf in case they are unable to make personal health decisions. This is why establishing a well-planned and drafted power of attorney can be a critical component of a comprehensive estate plan.
The Illinois Power of Attorney Act 755 ILCS 45/1-4 allows a person, known as the principal, to use a written instrument called a Power Of Attorney to designate an agent to make property, financial, personal, and health care decisions for the individual.
In Illinois, there are several different types of power of attorneys. The two common ones are for a durable power of attorney or for a springing power of attorney. A durable power is one that is effective immediately and does not require a subsequent event such as incapacity of the principal. The other is a springing power of attorney, which is effective upon the incapacity of the principal, as determined by a written verification by two physicians.
A healthcare or medical power of attorney grants or authorizes a trusted agent the power to make medical decisions on behalf of a principal when they are unable to make for themselves. A Power of Attorney For Health Care is often used in conjunction with a Living Wills to allow the principal to maintain the highest level of control over health-related decisions despite potential incapacitation.
Only a free and voluntary act of the principal, who is of sound mind and is mentally competent, can legally sign and appoint a power of attorney. There are times when the court will require an evaluation completed by a doctor to verify the competence of an individual.
When you consider who should be the agent or agents for your power of attorney, it is important to choose someone who is responsible and can be trusted to look out for you and your best interests. It is important, for you to select an agent carefully, so that this person is willing, able, and ready, to make health care decisions on your behalf when the time arises.
The principal may specify in the agency the event or time when the agency will begin and terminate, the mode of revocation or amendment and the rights, powers, duties, limitations, immunities and other terms applicable to the agent and to all persons dealing with the agent, and the provisions of the agency will control notwithstanding this Act, except that every health care agency must comply with Section 4-5 of this Act. If a principal does not specifically limit the period of time that this Power of Attorney will be in effect, the agent may exercise the powers given to him or her throughout the principal’s lifetime, both before and after you become incapacitated.
In Illinois, a Power of Attorney can be revoked at any time. To revoke it the principal should notify the agent in writing and ensure that all copies of the power of attorney documents are retrieved from anyone who may have a copy. A court may also take away the powers of your agent if it finds that the agent is not acting properly.
If you were to become incapacitated without an advance directive, your family and doctors might struggle with providing you care in accordance with your wishes. However, by developing an effective estate plan including health care provisions such as a power attorney, much of the possible uncertainty can be eliminated. It is important to select a Power of Attorney Agent carefully, ensuring that the one you choose is ready, willing, and able to make health care decisions on your behalf. You may also want to choose a Power of Attorney Agent who will be able to work in conjunction and cooperation with your executor, trustees, other powers of attorney, and any other person responsible for carrying out your estate planning directives.
Your Power of Attorney Agent would be responsible for the following, including, but not limited to:
There are many issues to consider when creating an effective and comprehensive Power of Attorney for Health Care. A Power of Attorney for Health Care document does not have to be executed by an attorney, signed and executed in the presence of an attorney, nor does it have to be notarized. Sometimes choosing the right provisions for your power of attorney or other estate planning documents can be confusing and you may need an attorney to assist you. Consulting an attorney will ensure that process is done properly and meets all Illinois legal requirements. Pinkston Law Group, P.C., can help you create an effective combination of powers of attorney for healthcare, power of attorney for finance, other estate planning instruments, including a Living Will, Last Will and Testament, and Trust and for your Estate.
Pinkston Law Group, P.C., knows that it is important to make sure that the principal knows his or her options regarding a Power of Attorney for Health Care and we will listen to their needs. Pinkston Law Group, P.C., handles a wide variety of clients who need a Power of Attorney for Health Care.
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