What is a power of attorney?

Importance of Using an Attorney When Executing Powers of Attorney | Illinois Estate Planning

Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
September 3, 2019

In this article, we will discuss why you should use an attorney when executing powers of attorney.  We will cover the topics “What is power of attorney?”, "Who Chooses a Power of Attorney?" and, “Do I need a Lawyer to Draft a Power of Attorney?”

What is Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney is a form of substitute decision making.  This is used when someone is unable to make decisions for themselves as they are in some way incapacitated or not of sound mind.  Most often, this is done for someone who reaches an old age and they are no longer able to make decisions in their best interest, but they can also be set up for situations such as medical emergency.  They are several types of power of attorney.  A general power of attorney may be assigned if a person would like someone to be in charge of all of their decision making.  However, there is also a more specialized power of attorney meant to focus on decisions such as health care or business decisions.

Who Chooses a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is chosen by the person whom they will be making decisions for.  This can be established in a signed power of attorney agreement.  Unlike a guardianship, which is assigned by the court, Power of Attorney is entirely assigned by the specific person, so it is very important that said person is confident in the person they are choosing as their power of attorney.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Draft a Power of Attorney?

One very important way to assure your confidence in who you pick as power of attorney is to go to an attorney when making the decision.  An attorney can not help you screen some of your options and let you know who may be the best option. They will inform you and the person you are considering on the role and abilities of a Power of Attorney so that you are both more informed on the significance of the role.  As with any form of Estate Planning, the decision is very important detail is key.  A Power of Attorney only has the power that you have given them, so a close attention to detail on the paperwork and the elements of the estate is vital.  Writing this agreement with an estate planning attorney, or having one review your current documents, will give peace of mind to both the person with the power of attorney and the person they are deciding for.  

For more, see our article “Basics of Substitute Decision Making?

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