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Power of Attorney

What Exactly Is A Power of Attorney In Illinois?

 

Should you at any point become mentally incompetent, whether this be from a sickness, car accident, etc., the person who is appointed as your Power of Attorney or “POA” has the authority to act on your behalf involving administering your affairs. This does not apply when you become physically incapable, for example, if you are bound to a wheelchair, etc. It is only mental competency that determines when a POA begins. In this transaction, you are called a “Principal” and your POA is your “Agent”, these are the legal terms given to each of you. This just means that the Power of Attorney is acting on your behalf.

In the State of Illinois, Power of Attorney agreements are regulated by state law. this particular state law is the Illinois Power of Attorney Act, Ill. Com. State. 755/45. In this act, there are four basic requirements for a Power of Attorney. These requirements include:

  1. 1. A designation of an Agent (Power of Attorney) and a written description of what powers they hold;
  2. 2. A properly signed (by the Principal) Power of Attorney document; and
  3. 3. There must be a witness, the Principal must acknowledge and identify their own signature, and this all must be notarized by a public notary.

These are very specific requirements and must be carried out correctly to ensure there are no issues that arise when you actually need to use it. It is important to have a licensed and experienced attorney to help you understand what needs to be done and make sure everything is done correctly. Sean Robertson and the Attorneys at Gateville Law Firm are experienced in creating Power of Attorney documents and are eager to help you through this process, making it as quick and smooth as possible.

 

When Does Power of Attorney Begin and How Long Does It Last?

The Power of Attorney role, given by the legal document called your Power of Attorney, goes into effect when a doctor determines you are mentally incapacitated and lasts as long as you are alive, but still mentally incompetent. Once you either regain mental competency or pass away, the POA no longer has that authority.

What Does A Power of Attorney Have The Power To Do?

The person you have appointed as your POA has three main areas in which they have the power to make decisions. This includes making medical, financial, and legal decisions on your behalf. This includes any day-to-day affairs as well as any complex legal issues that may arise.

In the event that the appointed POA does not have the sufficient knowledge in a particular financial or legal matter, they can then appoint this responsibility to an “Agent” who will then handle the transaction on their behalf, which is still ultimately on your behalf.

How Should You Decide Who Should Be Your Power of Attorney?

The person your choose as your Power of Attorney has a great responsibility. For this reason, your Power of Attorney should be someone that you trust to make decisions on your behalf. Typically, a spouse or another close loved one is chosen as power of attorney. Something to keep in mind when selecting a Power of Attorney is whether that person can best represent your wishes. The person you choose should be someone that you can easily discuss your healthcare wishes with. Even if your Power of Attorney does not agree with your wishes, they must be willing to follow through with them. It is important that you do not select someone who is going to try and persuade you to change your opinions and decisions.

Some factors to consider when choosing a power of attorney include: location, trustworthiness, assertiveness, understanding of medical processes, organization, and responsibility.

Location is something that is important to consider when you are selecting your POA because it is typically a good idea to choose someone who lives close to you. For example, in an emergency that Power of Attorney is going to need to get to you or a health care center that you would be at quickly. It is typically not advised to pick someone who lives out of state or further away from you for this reason. Further, it's important that you trust this person. Some things to consider when determining whether this person is trustworthy enough for this position, is to look at their character and values. Would this person be able to handle such a big responsibility? Do you think that they would follow through on your decisions? This person must also be able to be assertive during their role as POA. The entire reason a Power of Attorney is needed is because you have become mentally incompetent. This can be an emotional time and it is important that the person can handle their emotions and still be assertive for what your wishes are. It is also important that this person has somewhat understanding of a medical process. Your OIA does not need to be a medical expert, however, it is important that they have a basic understanding of how these processes work in terms of being able to ask the right questions, and making decisions, for example, when it comes to treatment options. Finally, you want to make sure this person is organized and responsible. Again, this can be an emotional time and it is important that the person can keep all of the paperwork organized and communicate wishes clearly and affectively when needed. 

What Are The Steps For Setting Up a Power of Attorney?

There are three main steps when setting up and filing a Power of Attorney form and it is important, because of the stakes that comes with appointing a Power of Attorney are very high, that you have an experienced attorney to help you and make sure there will be no issues.

The first step is to fill out a Power of Attorney form. This form must then be signed and have a witness that is at least 18 years old and mentally competent sign as well. There are a number of people who are prohibited from being a witness. For example, for a POA of health care, your doctor or health care provider is not allowed to be your POA. Once the document is signed, it should be given to the professional it pertains to. So for example, if it is a POA health care form, your primary medical doctor and any other health care providers who you see regularly should receive a copy. Similarly, if you are in a nursing home or other type of assisted living facility, a copy should go to the administrator of that facility. Also, the person you choose as POA should have their own copy. In the event that your POA is needed, this is when your health care provider would call that person, who would then come in and be in charge of making decisions on your behalf.

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