April 8, 2020 — Do you ever wonder how your finances would be handled in the event that you become incapacitated or disabled? If you haven’t, you are not alone. While most people understand that having a will is important for financial reasons, many do not think about who would take care of paying bills and managing other financial obligations when they are still alive yet unable to do so. Often times this does not occur to people until a family member realizes he or she has no authority to access bank accounts or any type of financial information for a loved one whose mental capacity has already deteriorated to the point where the person can no longer execute legal documents. When we create an estate plan for a Client, we typically advise the Client to have us prepare a Durable Power of Attorney for Property (“POA Property”) to manage those issues.
A POA Property authorizes the person of your choice (and at least one alternate) to carry out property-related transactions on your behalf if you are physically or mentally incapacitated. Examples of property-related transactions covered in the POA Property include financial institution transactions, real estate transactions, insurance, and tax matters. It is imperative that you have total confidence in the person named as the attorney-in-fact, also known as the “agent”, since that person will have the authority to act on your behalf regarding all activities described in the POA Property. The law does set standards for the agent, who must act in your best interests.
We can answer questions you have related to a POA Property and other elements of an estate plan. Remember, it is important to have a complete estate plan in place while you are able to execute legal documents. Please contact us today to schedule your 30-minute courtesy initial consultation with Attorney Tim Leighton by calling 309/828-7600 or by sending an email to [email protected].
Note for those who already have a POA Property: Check your current POA Property to see when you executed the document. Illinois changed the power of attorney laws effective July 2011. It probably makes sense to execute a new POA Property if your document is dated before then. We also suggest that you review your designated agent and alternate(s) to make sure those choices reflect your current wishes.