If you’ve ever talked to a financial planner or attorney who practices in the probate field, they most likely recommended that you have powers of attorney in place in the event that you would be incapacitated or unable to make decisions about your own affairs. A power of attorney grants the holder of the power, called the “agent”, authority to make decisions for an incapacitated person, called the “principal”. Having powers of attorney in place makes life easier on your family, medical care providers, and on you when you recover from whatever condition incapacitated you in the first place. There are three kinds of powers of attorney: financial, healthcare, and dual purpose.
The Illinois General Assembly recently passed an act that made sweeping changes to the Illinois Power of Attorney Act. The new Act took effect on July 1, 2011. The Act changes the statutory forms that are to be used in the making of healthcare, financial, and dual purpose powers of attorney. The stated goals of the legislature in changing the Illinois Power of Attorney Act were to make the statutory forms more user-friendly, yet more protective of the principal from financial or physical abuse.
The major changes are:
1. The agent’s standard of care is elevated, meaning the agent must exercise the power cautiously
2. There is more oversight of the agent’s actions
3. There are expanded remedies against an agent who abuses his/her fiduciary responsibilities
4. The new form provides notice to an agent under a POA for property, describing his/her responsibilities
5. The new form provides default provisions for co-agents in a nonstatutory POA for property
6. There are limitations on witnesses to the execution of a POA, to avoid conflicts of interest
7. The latest changes in response to HIPAA and the Disposition of Remains Act are incorporated into the POA for Healthcare
If you currently have a Power of Attorney that was implemented before July 1, 2011, you should review it and make arrangements to execute a new one soon, because the new act provides protections that were not previously available. If you do not have a Power of Attorney, now is an excellent time to contact Bach Law to find out more information.