How to Get Power of Attorney in Illinois

By Elizabeth Stock

A power of attorney in Illinois gives another person, the agent, the ability to make health care or financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions on your own. A power of attorney is flexible and can endure indefinitely or for a specified period of time. Creating a power of attorney in Illinois is straightforward, making a power of attorney accessible for those who do not want to hire an attorney for assistance.

Step 1

Discuss your wishes with the person to whom you wish to grant power of attorney -- that is, your prospective agent. Third parties will be relying on your agent’s instructions and it is important for the agent you choose to understand your wishes and how you would like important matters to be carried out on your behalf. For example, if you are appointing an agent to make health care decisions for you, discuss the extent of life saving techniques you would like performed and in what situations you do not want to receive medical care.

Step 2

Complete the appropriate power of attorney form. Since there are two different powers of attorney recognized in Illinois; power of attorney for property and power of attorney for health care, you need to choose which form meets your needs. Each form will ask you to convey your wishes in writing, according to a variety of situations. For example, the power of attorney form for health care includes a variety of health care situations and a space for you to describe your wishes. Both forms also provide a place to appoint a successor agent in case your principal agent is unable or does not want to act on your behalf.

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Step 3

Sign the form in the presence of a witness. If you are executing a power of attorney for property in Illinois, you must have the form notarized. The state of Illinois requires you to have at least one witness present when you sign the power of attorney form. The witness’s signature is also required on the form, attesting that you signed the document.

Step 4

Provide a copy of the completed form to your agent. It is important to make several copies of the original form. Keep the original copy with your important documents for safekeeping. In addition, if you are executing a health care power of attorney, provide a copy of the form to your doctor to keep with your medical record. A copy of the power of attorney for property form will need to be provided to all financial institutions including your bank. You can modify the power of attorney form at any time as long as you remain competent to do so.

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Difference Between Living Will & Durable Power of Attorney

At some point, perhaps toward the end of your life, you may need help taking care of your finances, making medical decisions or communicating your wishes to your physicians and family. A living will, power of attorney for health care or power of attorney for finances can direct your health care or give others authority to act on your behalf.

Medical Power of Attorney Explanation

When you are competent to make your own medical decisions, your health care providers rely on you to help determine what treatments are best for you. But if you become unable to make your own health care decisions, the person you name in a health care power of attorney will work with health care providers in your stead. For example, if you name your sister as the agent to make your medical decisions in case you become incompetent, she will direct your medical care if you later develop dementia that makes you incapable of making your own health care decisions.

How to Set Up Enduring Power of Attorney

If you are worried about what will happen to your assets and affairs should you become incapacitated, setting up an enduring power of attorney may ease your fears. An enduring power of attorney – referred to as a “durable” power of attorney in the United States – is a document granting another individual the right to handle certain financial or medical decisions on your behalf. A durable power of attorney differs from a standard power of attorney in that your representation, known as your “agent” or "attorney-in-fact" does not lose his right to manage your affairs should you become mentally incompetent. While an attorney can provide you with helpful information when completing this process, an attorney is not necessary to set up and execute a durable power of attorney. You can complete the documentation on your own, or use an online document preparation website.

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