Power of Attorney – How to Sign the Document?
A well-crafted Estate Plan includes power of attorney documents that name an agent that can make decisions for you when you are no longer able to. 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.
Each state has its own rules for how to executed Power of Attorney documents. In Illinois, a Power of Attorney for Healthcare document must be signed by an “competent” individual. “Competent” is a legal term, so if you are concerned about whether a person is able to sign a Power of Attorney document, please contact an experienced estate and guardianship attorney to discuss the facts of your situation. In general, a disabled person who does not understand the importance of a Power of Attorney document is not competent.
The Power of Attorney for Healthcare must be witnessed by one person over the age of 18. The witness must be independent and cannot be related to the person signing the Power of Attorney.
The Power of Attorney for Property must also be signed by a competent adult. However, this document must be signed by two witnesses. The document must be notarized as well. A Power of Attorney for Property is often executed at the same time as a Will because both documents require two witnesses. The witnesses must be independent – they cannot be related to the person signing the Power of Attorney.
Power of Attorney documents must be executed properly in order for them to be effective and enforceable. Financial institutions and health care providers will not recognize or rely upon Power of Attorney documents that are not signed and witnessed properly as required by the relevant statute.
Everyone can benefit from a consultation regarding their estate plan, especially power of attorney documents. It is also advisable to periodically review estate plans and, if necessary, amend the documents.
Andrew Hays and his legal team at Hays Firm LLC in Chicago are knowledgeable attorneys who have a great deal of experience with advising on and securing power of attorney for clients who wish to protect the rights of their loved ones. Please contact us to talk about how we can help.