Category: Power of Attorney for Healthcare

Powers of Attorney: What do they do?

Powers of Attorney: What do they do?

In life, the unexpected can often occur. Each day has a way of throwing a lot at you that you may not see coming. This is why it’s important to have certain documents drafted that can help you prepare for the unexpected. Powers of Attorney (POA) are precisely those documents.

There are two main types of Power of Attorney, Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Power of Attorney for Property. Both Powers of Attorney are unique in what they allow for and it is important to fill out either or both depending on your circumstances. Despite the name, a Power of Attorney does not grant someone the status of an attorney, or give them any additional ability to operate as an attorney, what it does is allow the designated person to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to.

The first POA to discuss is the Power of Attorney for Healthcare. This is the most important POA and is honestly something that EVERYONE should have prepared. What this document does is allow the signor to designate a person to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to.

While most people obviously want to be the decision makers over their own care, that’s not always possible. Often times when someone has to be taken to the hospital, they can be arriving in varying states of consciousness. If you arrive at the hospital and are unconscious, how are you going to tell people your wishes? This is where the Power of Attorney for Healthcare comes into play. If you have a designated POA for Healthcare, the document you signed will give the designated person instructions and an expression of your wishes in regards to your medical care.

For example, if you do not wish to be kept on life support because there is no obvious path for recovery. it is important that someone is aware of that as you can’t tell doctors or anyone else your desire if you are unconscious. Having a Power of Attorney for Healthcare can also be important to ensure that you not only receive the care that you would want, but that you don’t suffer any delays in your care. If you end up in the hospital, it is rarely so simple as a loved one coming in and making decisions for your care and things getting going. Hospitals are often wary of allowing anyone other than the patient to make medical decisions due to liability and may require a POA to be signed for any healthcare decisions to move forward. This can cause delays in your care which could be avoided if a POA was already in place.

The other type of POA is the Power of Attorney for Property. This is not quite as universally needed as the Power of Attorney for Healthcare but is still quite valuable for a wide variety of individuals. The main reason to obtain a Power of Attorney for Property is to, yes, you guessed it, manage your property. Now, for individuals who have very little money or assets to their name, a Power of Attorney for Property may not be necessary. However, if you are a person who: runs a business, rents property, has stocks, owns a home, has investments, or just generally has a lot of money and assets they want taken care of, a Power of Attorney for Property is very valuable to you.

If a situation occurs like in the Power of Attorney for Healthcare, where you are rendered unconscious or unable to manage your assets, you need someone with the authority to do so. Banks will almost never release money to family members or non-account holders unless there is a document granting them permission to do so. A Power of Attorney for Property is a document they will accept. Additionally, business owners and landlords would want to designate someone who can continue to operate the business in their absence or collect rent from a tenant. The POA for Property is a document that can be recognized and acknowledged by others that you have designated your POA to be able to manage your business and that they have permission to accept payments on your behalf. As a landlord this is very useful as tenants may take advantage of the fact that its not you collecting the rent by saying “Oh who is this trying to get rent from me? You are not my landlord; I’ll wait until my landlord comes asking for payment and then I will pay them the rent”. Meanwhile the mortgage is still coming due and taxes often still need to be paid.

It is important to choose carefully both, the people you want to be your Powers of Attorney and who you have draft the document/keep record of it. In order to ensure that your voice is able to be heard by your loved ones even when you can express your wishes for your healthcare or your property management, consider contacting the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or by phone at (815) 455-8430

POWERS OF ATTORNEY FOR PROPERTY: THE BASIC REQUIREMENTS

POWERS OF ATTORNEY FOR PROPERTY: THE BASIC REQUIREMENTS

If you are buying or selling a house it may be useful to obtain a Power of Attorney for property.

First, it is important to understand that there are multiple documents that qualify as “Powers of Attorney” under Illinois law.  Certain documents give another individual permission to act on your behalf for a variety of reasons.

You can give someone Power of Attorney over your health care.  If you are unable to make decisions for medical reasons, an agent you appointed with a Power of Attorney for your health care may be consulted.  Or if you need someone to access your safety deposit box you can grant that ability via a Power of Attorney.

A common Power of Attorney is one for property.  This document focuses on real estate and grants your agent the ability to act on your behalf only as to matters of real property or “land,” including any houses or other structures built on top.  For example, if you are buying or selling a house and cannot attend the closing transaction, you can execute a Power of Attorney to have someone else attend the closing and execute the necessary documents on your behalf.

When executing a Power of Attorney, it is critical that this be done correctly and pursuant to Illinois law.  Only in this way is the Power of Attorney valid.  A Power of Attorney that does not comply with Illinois law should not be honored and your anticipated agent will not be able to perform her or her tasks.

To ensure that your Power of Attorney is valid, the safest bet is to use what Illinois calls the “Statutory Form.”  This Form is a pre-drafted Power of Attorney laid out explicitly by Illinois law.  The Statutory Form is too long to re-print in its entirety within this article but can be found in section 3-3 of the Illinois Power of Attorney Act (755 ILCS 45/1-1 et seq).

If you do not use the Statutory Form, your Power of Attorney can still be valid.  Illinois states that a proper Power of Attorney must include:

  • The name of the individual you are appointing as your agent;
  • The specific powers you are designating to your agent; and
  • Your signature in the presence of a notary public and at least one other witness.

An additional consideration when you appoint an agent using a Power of Attorney is to give the document an expiration date.  You may not want this particular agent to act on your behalf for any longer than is necessary.  Finally, try to narrow the scope of the agent’s authority as much as possible.  This may prevent misunderstandings and unnecessary disputes down the road.

If you need for information on a Power of Attorney or are planning on buying or selling a home, local attorney Andrew Szocka provides thorough and speedy real estate assistance in the Chicagoland area.  To schedule a free initial consultation, visit Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

 

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