Illinois statute (755 ILCS 45) provides two legal forms for a power of attorney: (1) Property and (2) Health Care.
This document names an individual who has authority to make financial decisions on your behalf. It is very important to name an individual who you trust, because the document becomes effective immediately regardless of your ability or inability to make decisions yourself.
It is often part of an estate plan to prepare for a time when you are unable to make these decisions yourself. Nobody can legally sign their name or forge your signature to financial documents (i.e. bills, taxes, investments, etc).
A financial power of attorney enables one person to carry on your routine financial matters.
Without such a document, your family must ask a court to appoint somebody to make these decisions.
Pay everyday expenses
Bank and financial institution transactions
Pay real estate taxes
File income tax returns
Manage retirement accounts
Collect Social Security benefits
Operate a small business
Hire an attorney on your behalf
Illinois law (755 ILCS 45/Art. III) requires the document be notarized with one witness and refers to this document as a Durable Power of Attorney for Property. Two witnesses are advised if there are questions about whether another state where a transaction might occur requires two instead of one.
This document authorizes an individual to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.
Typically, the criteria to become effective is that you are so ill or injured that you cannot make or express medical decisions. For example, being unable to understand the nature or consequences of the options available to you or unable to communicate your decisions. A doctor might have to make the decision whether or not the health care power of attorney becomes effective.
The individual named in this document has authority to supervise the treatment instructions set forth or make decisions that the document does not specifically describe.
Withdraw life-prolonging procedures
Withdraw food and/or water
Organ donation (such as carrying out your wishes to refuse donation)
Disposition of your remains
Illinois law (755 ILCS 45/Art. IV) requires one witness to the document, who cannot be a family member. Your family member can act on your behalf, he/she just can't witness the document. It is advised to have the document notarized, even though this is not legally required.
There is some overlap between a Living Will and Heath Care Power of Attorney. A living will only applies for a terminal condition that is incurable and irreversible with imminent death. You can have both documents, but a Power of Attorney will probably cover this scenario along with broad medical authority granted to the named individual to make these decisions, including a terminal condition. A Living Will would take priority if the person in your Power of Attorney is unavailable.