Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future. Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care. Appointments available in Chicago, Aurora, Oak Brook, Schaumburg, and Joliet. Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!
By Rick Law, Elder Law Attorney in Western Chicago.
What are powerful powers of attorney for healthcare?
The health care power of attorney appoints an agent and allows that agent the ability to talk to your doctors, get your medical records, get a second opinion or consult on your life support wishes, to name a few of the major areas in which they can act on your behalf.
You can designate your agent to withhold or withdraw life support under certain circumstances.
We start with the basics of our statutory forms and then customize them for each individual client and also for specific elder law issues that need to be addressed. Our powers of attorney for healthcare discuss particular life support measures that a person may want to consider, such as feeding tubes, ventilators and hydration.
We also discuss life-sustaining measures in the event of advanced dementia. Your healthcare power of attorney may address your wishes with regards to organ donation. It can state your intentions regarding disposition of your body after death, including autopsies, cremation or other instructions.
(Here’s a tip: Don’t put burial instructions in the will. That document often does not come out until after the burial is completed. Oops!)
What are property powers of attorney?
The property power of attorney or “durable” power of attorney appoints an agent and gives that agent certain powers to manage their financial affairs. In Illinois and many other states, these documents are statutory (set out in state law as a form) and can be obtained online or in many office supply stores. However, do not assume this ease of access means ease of completion.
There are many issues to be considered when completing the documents – personal and legal matters that should be discussed with someone who knows the right questions to ask and who possesses the right understanding of the powers that will be or can be granted under these documents.
In Illinois, general powers to manage financial affairs are listed “a-o,” and they can be limited or broadened. It is important to have these explained to you by legal counsel, since the “instructions” can be confusing and there are many important powers with regard to giving, trust management, changing beneficiaries and other broad powers that must be explored and explained.
I often see forms that have been completed incorrectly, choices left blank, multiple choices checked where there should only be one, improper witnesses (cannot be “interested parties” and certain cannot be the named agents), and many other errors and omissions.
(Another tip: If possible, always list back-up agents. If your primary agent cannot serve due to death, incapacity or unwillingness to serve, you want to make sure that you have listed back-up agents. If the principal (you) becomes incapacitated and then the agent dies with no back-up agents listed, the principal (you again) requires a guardianship action to appoint someone to be the guardian of the person and estate. You literally become a ward of the court.)
Too many families needlessly lose everything they have. Don’t let that be you. If you need help building a fortress around your estate to protect it from creditors, predators, and the cost of chronic disease, give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free. We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family. Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options!
Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.