What is a power of attorney, and why should Illinois residents have this legal document prepared? A POA is a document that offers a person protection if there is ever a point in their life when they are unable to speak for themselves, whether due to absence, incapacity or illness. In some situations, without a POA in place, you lose your voice and have no say in what happens to you or your assets. The courts get to decide. Do you want that?
A POA gives you the ability to choose who you want making medical and financial decisions for you when you are not in a position to do it on your own. Individuals appointed to this role do not have the power to do whatever they want. There are certain limitations to their power, and they do have to honor your wishes whether you’ve voiced them previously or put them in writing.
Various types of POA
There are various types of POAs. They include:
A medical POA allows the agent to make medical decisions for you, while a financial POA gives that agent the right to take control of your assets, access bank accounts, sell or buy property, and so on. A general POA allows the agent to act on all matters, while a limited POA only allows the agent to act for specific matters — as long as you are of sound mind. A durable POA is needed for use in the event of your incapacitation.
Who should I designate as my agent?
There is no right or wrong answer here. It could be a spouse, parent, child, grandparent, friend, other family member or any other trusted individual. Whomever you decide to name as your agent for a POA it should be someone you trust to act in your best interests at all times. If you pick an agent and then later wish to change the designation, you may do so by revoking your current POA and creating another.
How to create a POA
While it may be possible to find a standard POA form online, that is not always the best route to take. The document must have various specific details and adhere to state law, which you may not know on your own. These documents often should include:
- Your name
- The name of the designated agent or agents
- Powers granted to the agent
Everything should be in writing. A power of attorney needs to be signed by all involved parties and notarized. Of course, make sure it is easy to find, as it won’t do you any good if no one can find the document when it is needed.