Power of Attorney for Property
Naperville’s Expert Powers of Attorney for Property Lawyer
As you age, it becomes increasingly more important to plan for the future. What would happen to your spouse if you were to become incapacitated in some way? Would your children know what to do? If you have investments, property, or businesses, will someone handle these matters in a way that’s beneficial to you and your loved ones? Even if you’re currently healthy, these are important questions to answer as you age. Circumstances outside your control, from a car accident to an illness could incapacitate you and leave your property at risk. A Power of Attorney for Property lets your wishes be known and appoints someone you trust (an “agent”) to act on your behalf and for your benefit. Although Illinois allows anyone to create a Power of Attorney (POA), as a legal document it’s often helpful to have an attorney assist you to make sure you understand the implications of everything you’re signing and help you identify potential pitfalls in your unique circumstance that you may want to guard against by making special provisions. Powers of Attorney for Property are very flexible and can give as much or as little power to your agent as you want.
Ordinary v. Durable Power of Attorney for Property
If you use the Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney for Property provided by the State of Illinois (available through the Illinois Council on Aging), you will create a durable power of attorney unless you specify otherwise in the document. This kind of POA becomes active the moment you, your agent, and the notary witness sign it and it will stay in effect until your death unless you revoke it or a court determines you were not in your sound mind when it was created. If you prefer for your POA to only remain in effect until you are disabled (an ordinary power of attorney), you should specify this in the form. While this kind of POA is not as common for property matters, it can allow your spouse or another trusted individual to be able to manage your affairs when it’s inconvenient or impossible for you to do so, while reserving the right for you to have someone else take over management of your property if you should become incapacitated and want to spare the original agent the burden of caring for both you and your property.
Springing Durable Power of Attorney
If you would like to manage your own affairs for the time being, but want to arrange for someone to take care of your property in the event that you become incapacitated, you should talk to one of our lawyers about creating a springing durable power of attorney. This kind of POA remains inactive until a certain date is reached or event occurs, after which time it “springs” into effect. Usually, the inciting event is when you become incapacitated, either through an accident or illness. While this type of POA can be useful in some cases, it’s very important that you clearly spell out in the document what “incapacitated” means to you. If the definition is left open to interpretation, it can be difficult to know whether the POA has gone into effect or not and the agent may face obstacles and even legal battles before he or she can begin managing your affairs.
Who Can I Name As Agent?
Anyone whom you trust can be named as agent, and although you can only have one at a time, you can name successor agents who will take over your affairs if the primary agent dies or is incapacitated. Family and close friends are common choices, but you can also have your attorney or a professional fiduciary appointed as an agent as well. It’s vital, however, to speak with your agent before naming him or her, because although a power of attorney gives that person the ability to manage your affairs, it does not obligate him to do so. You should only designate an agent whom you trust completely and who expresses his or her willingness to act on your behalf.
What Authority Does a Power of Attorney for Property Give An Agent?
A power of attorney for property can bestow as much or as little authority to the agent as you like, which is why an experienced estate planning lawyer is important to include in the drafting process. Our attorneys at the Homer Law Firm will help you think through which powers you want to give your agent and the possible ramifications of including or excluding that activity from the purview of his authority. Generally, unless you specify otherwise, your agent will have all of the following powers, plus any additional ones you grant him the ability to:
- Buy, sell, lease, and manage real estate
- Make financial transactions on your behalf at your bank, credit union, or other financial agency
- Buy and sell stocks and bonds
- Buy, sell, lease, and manage your tangible personal property
- Rent and access your safe deposit box
- Perform transactions into and out of your retirement plan
- Collect social security, employment, and/or military benefits
- Pay your taxes
- Make claims and initiate litigation on your behalf
- Perform commodity and option transactions
- Manage your small business operations
- Borrow money and take out loans
- Buy, sell, lease, gift, and manage all parts of your estate
- Perform any other transactions with your property
Homer Law Firm – Expert Assistance with Powers of Attorney for Property
A Power of Attorney for Property is a big step that puts a tremendous deal of trust and authority into the hands of another. We can help you think through your situation, advise you on the best possible solutions, and help you draft a custom power of attorney for property document that will give you peace of mind about your future.