May 05, 2013
The property power of attorney or “durable” power of attorney document appoints an agent and gives that agent certain powers to manage your financial affairs. In Illinois and many other states, these documents are statutory (set out in state law as a form) and can be obtained online or in many office supply stores.
However, do not assume that ease of access means ease of completion. There are many issues to be considered when completing the power of attorney document – personal and legal matters that should be discussed with someone who knows the right questions to ask and who possesses the right understanding of the powers that will be or can be granted under a power of attorney.
In Illinois, the general powers to manage financial affairs are listed in the statutory document as “a-o,” and these powers can be limited or broadened. It is important to have this explained to you by legal counsel, since the “instructions” can be confusing and there are many important powers with regard to gifting, trust management, changing beneficiaries and other broad powers that must be explored and explained.
I often see power of attorney documents that have been completed incorrectly, with choices left blank, multiple choices checked where there should only be one, improper witnesses (witnesses cannot be “interested parties” and certainly cannot be the named agents), and many other errors and omissions.
And here’s a tip: If possible, always list back-up agents. If your primary agent cannot serve due to death, incapacity or unwillingness to serve, you want to make sure that you have listed back-up agents in your power of attorney document. If the principal (you) becomes incapacitated and then your agent dies with no back-up agents listed, the principal (you again) requires a guardianship action to appoint someone to be the guardian of the person and estate. That means you literally become a ward of the court.
Too many families needlessly lose everything they have. Don’t let that be you. If you need help building a fortress around your estate to protect it from creditors, predators, and the cost of chronic disease, give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free. We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family. Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options!
Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees
Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future. Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care. Appointments available in Chicago, Aurora, Oak Brook, Schaumburg, and Joliet. Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!
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Just don’t leave them a mess.
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