Assigning a Power of Attorney – Reasons, Considerations, and the Steps to Take

Illinois wills and trusts lawyersWhen drafting an estate plan, guarantors are often asked whether they have selected a power of attorney to represent them during a period of incapacitation. Do you really need such a person and how do you decide which person to name in your will or trust? More importantly, how can you ensure that the person you select is able to effectively represent your interests? Learn the answers to these questions in the following sections, and to discover how the assistance of a seasoned wills and trusts lawyer can protect the best interests of you, your heirs, and your estate. 

Why Assign a Power of Attorney? 

Although it can be unnerving to legally name and assign someone to handle your financial and healthcare decisions during a period of incapacitation, doing so can benefit you, your family, and your estate. First, it can ensure that you are not given medical treatments that you do not wish to receive. You are also less likely to experience the financial consequences that tend to occur when one’s finances go unmanaged (i.e. late fees, extreme loss in the stock market, unpaid bills, etc.), which can ensure your estate remains preserved for your heirs, should you eventually pass away. 

Considerations to Make When Choosing a Power of Attorney 

When you assign a financial power of attorney, you are giving that person the power to handle your financial affairs. Healthcare proxies make decisions relating to your health. In either case, it is critical that you explicitly trust the person you select to make decisions that are in your best interest, and in accordance with your wishes. As such, there are a few things that you might want to consider when selecting your financial power of attorney or healthcare proxy:

  • Does the person in question have a history of financial problems? Such issues can indicate that the person is unable to effectively manage money;
  • Have you ever had a disagreement with the person? If so, you may want to consider whether they may be secretly holding a grudge against you;
  • Would you say that the person in question is strong, or are they easily persuaded? The latter may find it difficult to respect your wishes if they experience push-back from others in your life; and
  • Do you consider the person in question to be someone of good character? Anyone who works in their own best interests in front of you may be more than willing to defraud you during incapacitation.

Contact Our Wheaton Estate Planning Lawyers Before Taking the Next Step

Once you have selected someone that you feel is trustworthy, honest, and willing to work in your best interests, regardless of the circumstances, take the next step and contact Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC for assistance. Our seasoned DuPage County wills and trusts lawyers can help ensure that your wishes are clearly stated, and that they comply with all laws so that you are effectively represented during incapacitation. Call 630-665-2500 today. 



Is a Living Will Right for You?

advance directives, Illinois estate planning attorney, is a living will right for you, living will, medical careWhen making decisions about the future, one document that should be addressed by all adults is a living will. The Mayo Clinic defines a living will as “a written, legal document that spells out medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive.”

With so many medical advances made over the last few decades, it is quite possible for a person to be kept alive for an extended period of time with the use of life-sustaining equipment, such as a ventilator for a person who is not able to breathe on his or her own.

Many people, however, often say they would not want to be kept alive under these circumstances because they feel their quality of life would be greatly compromised. Yet despite a person verbalizing these feelings at one time or another, if he or she does not have any advance directives in place, such as a living will, then these decisions would have to be made by family members.

Unfortunately, family members do not always agree with what is the best medical option. Therefore, an individual’s wishes, if not in writing, may not be followed. Another possible scenario is when two immediate family members (such as two adult children) disagree, and the decision of one’s future is then suddenly up to a judge because lawsuits have been filed. All this can be avoided with a simple living will.

Additionally, there are certain medical decisions you may need to make before you have an attorney draw up a living will. These include:

  • Deciding which life-sustaining treatment or choices you would want, which you would not want used, and how long should these treatments be used if your condition is not improving. These treatments include ventilation, feeding tubes, antibiotics and CPR;
  • Deciding what your feeling is about being given pain medication that provides relief of pain, but may also hasten death;
  • Deciding if artificial life support should be removed if you have been declared brain dead or should it stay in place until your heart actually stops beating; and
  • Deciding if you want your organs donated after you have passed.

Along with a living will, you may also want to consider having a power of attorney appointed in the event you are no longer capable of making important decisions about medical or financial issues. An experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney can help you through this process. Call 630-665-2500 today to schedule your consultation.

Planning for Death to Ensure Your Wishes Are Preserved, Part One

Chicago powers of attorney lawyer, guardianship, health care surrogate, mental health advance directive, planning for death, power of attorneyThe conversation of planning for death, incapacitation, and mental or psychological deterioration is difficult. Even when instructions are left, the truth remains that too often the actual intention of these documents are subverted. This unfortunate situation lends itself to an incredible amount of conflict among loved ones, with many of whom are too emotional to be rational.

Many of these issues arise not only after death, but also during chronic illnesses, after unexpected accidents, and any time one is not in a state to make a competent decision. Thus, it is necessary to place the utmost time and consideration into designating the person, or persons, whose duty it will be to ensure your wishes are legally preserved.

In the State of Illinois, critical decision makers consist of several types. Each has a separate set of rules, hierarchy, duties and influence. It is important to understand the differences between these agents, as well as how each is employed. For instance, the person in charge of your finances may or may not be the same person making health decisions for you.

The following is a list of the different types of agents that can legally act on your behalf, as well as a short description of each:

  • Power of Attorney: This is an official agreement between a designated agent and the person he or she could be making decisions for which can cover many areas of law. These agreements are individual in nature, and give more individual discretion as to how far powers extend. Responsibilities can be added and removed as needed. What specifically makes the power of attorney so important is the fact that he or she can legally act on your behalf regardless of your physical or mental status. A person may have a medical power of attorney and a property power of attorney.

  • Guardianship: Generally reserved for extreme circumstances, guardianship is a completely different concept. This is a direct agent of the court who has the authority to make decisions about your living arrangement, some medical care, and personal finances. In these cases, family members are given no preference by the court. Guardianship can be appointed to financial institutions, direct agents of the court, or any person over 18 without a felony conviction. This is a complicated process, and requires proof to the court of disability from multiple sources. It is often not revocable. Also, guardianship comes in several different forms.

  • Health Care Surrogate: This is the situation you may want to avoid if possible, as it has the potential to cause the most conflict among loved ones. A health care surrogate is a person designated by a hierarchy of family members and is appointed to make decisions about your health care and finances should you be deemed incompetent. A health care surrogate is usually employed when a cohesive estate plan is not in place to address these issues. The order in which an Illinois court will appoint a surrogate is as follows:

    1. Spouse,

    2. Child,

    3. Parent,

    4. Sibling,

    5. Grandchild, and

    6. Friend.

  • Mental Health Advance Directive: This is a signed document of consent allowing an agent to make decisions regarding psychological medical decisions. Specifically, this document addresses the administration of psychotropic medications, use of electroconvulsant therapy, and hospitalization if necessary.

The best way to ensure your wishes are preserved, in the event you should become incompetent due to illness, injury or death, is to consult an experienced Chicago powers of attorney lawyer. The Illinois law office of Stock, Carlson, Flynn & McGrath, LLC provides professional legal services in all estate matters to clients in DuPage County, as well as across Illinois.