Power of attorney for property – What decisions can your agent make?
At Hays Firm, our Chicago-based elder law attorneys work with our clients to make plans for an unknown future. The future may entail a period of time in which our clients are incapacitated and unable to make their own financial decisions. A Power of Attorney for Property addresses this scenario. In fact, Power of Attorney for Property is one of the simplest and most important estate planning tools anyone can have.
When elder care attorneys refer to “incapacity”, they are referring to whether a person can make their own personal and financial decisions. Financial decisions include the ability to pay bills. Is the person able to manage his personal finances? Is the person susceptible to financial exploitation? At some point, you may be unable to make financial decisions. Your incapacity may be only temporary such as after a planned major surgery or after an unforeseen accident. Or as you age, and your ability to independently maintain your finances diminishes.
A Power of Attorney for Property can help you and your family through periods of temporary or permanent incapacity. The word “Property” refers to any and all property you own. A house, a car, and bank accounts are all included in the definition of “Property”. Any asset that you own may be addressed in your Power of Attorney for Property document.
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 may 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.
The attorneys at Hays Firm are available for any questions that you may have regarding a Power of Attorney for Property. Our experienced elder law attorneys will guide you through the process of choosing an agent and determining what powers to grant your agent. Feel free to contact us anytime.