Estate Law Essential Estate Planning Tools
A well-crafted Estate Plan includes power of attorney documents. In power of attorney documents, you name an agent that can make decisions for you. For example, in a “Power of Attorney for Property”, you name an agent who can make decisions regarding your finances. Likewise, in a “Power of Attorney for Healthcare”, you name an agent who can make decisions for your health care and for your end of life care.
Benefits of Power of Attorney Documents
Power of Attorney documents may be effective immediately or they may be drafted to be effective only after an individual is unable to make competent decisions. If you are diagnosed with dementia, or if your judgment becomes otherwise impaired, your agent will “step into your shoes” to make decisions to protect you and your estate and finances. An agent owes a fiduciary duty to the person for whom they are acting. Illinois law requires an agent named in a power of attorney document to “act in good faith for the best interest of the principal, using due care, competence, and diligence.” The agent must also “keep a complete and detailed record of all receipts, disbursements, and significant actions conducted for the principal.”
Therefore, it is essential that you pick someone you trust will act with the utmost good faith to be your agent under a power of attorney document. The law provides penalties and civil remedies if your agent becomes the abuser.
With power of attorney documents in place, your identified agent can review or monitor your bank accounts and retirement savings funds. If a new “friend” comes into your life, your agent will be able to monitor your accounts and will notice when the first check is written.
The down side of power of attorney documents is that the aged person still has control of and access to all of their finances. Therefore, a vulnerable elderly person can be persuaded to go to the bank and remove funds for his or her new “friend.” The elderly person can still write checks and add new account owners and beneficiaries.
Estate Planning Services provided by Hays Firm
- Creation of estate plans including wills, trusts and power of attorney documents.
- Identifying appropriate agents
- Drafting Power of Attorney for Healthcare
- Drafting Power of Attorney for Property
- Proper execution of estate planning documents
- Review of prior power of attorney documents
Everyone can benefit from a consultation regarding their estate plan. It is also advisable to periodically review a estate plans, and if necessary, amend the documents. Please contact an estate planning lawyer at Hays Firm LLC by calling (312) 626-2537 or via e-mail.