The Duty to Account
In a Power of Attorney for Property, you nominate an “agent”, or a person to act on your behalf. Some states call the person that you nominate an “attorney in fact”. The agent may begin acting on your behalf immediately, if necessary. Or, if you prefer, your agent may not begin acting on your behalf until you are incapacitated. In either case, it is important that you nominate an individual whom you implicitly trust. Additionally, it is important that you choose a person who will in fact act on your behalf to manage your financial affairs when you are unable to do so.
Using the Power of Attorney for Property document, your agent is able to perform a variety of financial and property transactions for you. For instance, your agent may pay bills for you, may transfer money from savings accounts to checking accounts, and even sell your home if necessary to pay medical bills or nursing home bills. However, you may choose to limit the type of transactions and decisions your agent can make.
Your agent will have a variety of duties to ensure that your financial matters and your property are managed properly. One of your agent’s duties is to keep a record of all of their activities as an agent. Illinois law requires that your agent specifically keep a record of “of all receipts, disbursements, and significant actions taken as your agent.” This record is very important, as the record may be requested. This record is often referred to as an “Account” or an “Accounting.” In this article, we refer to the record that your agent must keep as an “Account.”
The Account may be maintained in a spreadsheet, in a check ledger, or even in a school notebook. Your agent should also keep any receipts, invoices, and bank statements that show his or her activities. The law requiring that your agent maintain an Account is an attempt to protect individuals from financial exploitation.
Under Illinois law, the following groups of people have the right to request the Account:
(1) A guardian or other fiduciary acting on your behalf
(2) After your death, the personal representative of your estate;
(3) An Adult Protective Services agency that is investigating a complaint of elder abuse or neglect under the Adult Protective Services Act;
(4) The Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman if it is investigating a complaint of financial exploitation of a nursing home resident;
(5) The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Human Services, if it is investigating a complaint of financial exploitation of an adult with disabilities;
(6) A person who has obtained a court order to receive the Account; and
(7) The Office of State Guardian or the public guardian for the county it is investigating whether to file a petition for guardianship.
If you have further questions about an agent’s duty to provide an Account, please call Hays Firm, LLC at 312-262-2537. Our attorneys have experience representing individuals who are acting as agents under a power of attorney document. Our firm also has extensive experience representing individuals who would like to request an Account from a person who is acting under a power of attorney document.