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Setting Up Powers of Attorney
When a person becomes no longer able to manage his/her property or health care decisions, they have the option to appoint a loved one or other trusted person, as their agent to handle all of their property and financial affairs and make important health care decisions and authorize medical treatment for the person. Powers of attorney are an important estate planning tool to help ensure that your affairs are properly managed if you are no longer able to do so. The person you give this power to should be someone you can fully trust with all matters concerning your health and finances. For this reason, these documents should only be set up after careful consideration and with guidance from an experienced attorney.
At Jay A. Slutzky, attorney at law, can help create a comprehensive estate, trust and asset protection plan that meets your needs and accounts for all eventualities. Jay A. Slutzky, attorney at law is friendly, responsive and compassionate with an unwavering commitment to ensuring that your interests are protected. He will take the time to thoroughly analyze your circumstances so he can employ the appropriate tools to effectively carry out your final wishes. In many instances, a power of attorney will be an integral part of your overall plan.
There are two main types of powers of attorney in Illinois:
- Property Powers of Attorney (PPOA)
- Healthcare Powers of Attorney (HCPOA)
Property Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney for property is selected either temporarily or permanently to handle the financial affairs of another. Some of the duties of the designee include:
- Paying Bills
- Filing Tax Returns
- Managing Financial Paperwork
- Dealing with Insurance Issues
- Signing legal documents
- Endorsing and depositing checks to your accounts
- Speaking with the IRS or Social Security on your behalf
- Managing your business affairs
- Stock and bond transactions
You may decide to designate a PPOA temporarily if you are traveling for an extended period of time and need someone to take care of your finances while you are gone. For estate planning purposes, you may appoint a PPOA in the event that you become physically and mentally incapacitated and can no longer manage your finances on your own.
Healthcare Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney for healthcare is designated for a time in the future when you may be incapacitated or otherwise unable to make healthcare decisions or authorize medical treatment for yourself. While you are able, however, you continue to retain control over your own care. In deciding whom to appoint as your agent under a healthcare power of attorney, you should make sure this person shares your beliefs and understands your wishes concerning end-of-life issues. A durable power of attorney can give your agent authority to make other health care decisions for you, including admission to or discharge from a hospital or long-term care facility, give medical consent for treatment, anatomical gifts, the authority to speak with your doctors and other health care providers, your medical insurance company and to Medicare.
A living will is a document that instructs family members and medical professionals on which life sustaining procedures you want done during a terminal illness. A living will generally permits a person to die naturally without being “hooked up” to machines IF (a) the person has an incurable and irreversible injury, illness or disease and the person’s attending physician determines is a terminal condition, and (b) death is imminent except for using death-delaying procedures (e.g. “machines”).
All three of these documents may be revoked by you at any time. Just as estate plan should be reviewed periodically, so should your powers of attorney for property, health care and your living will. Over the years, you may want to designate different agents to act on your behalf, or it may become necessary to do so. Also, just because you name someone as your agent in your power of attorney, unless the person is willing, he or she may not want to be your agent. You cannot force someone to act on your behalf just because you have named them as your agent in a power of attorney. You should speak with this person beforehand to verify that, if necessary, they will be willing and able to act on your behalf.