A power of attorney gives another person the right to make some or all financial and medical decisions on your behalf, but it is a less formal process than adult guardianship. A Rolling Meadows power of attorney lawyer can help you decide whether a power of attorney is appropriate in your case.
To help understand when power of attorney may be a good choice, let’s look at a hypothetical example. Last year, Alice moved to an assisted living facility after she suffered a fall in her home. Although she has enough money to cover her expenses for the foreseeable future, she wants to sell her house, but because of her limited mobility, it is difficult for her to meet with real estate agents and prospective buyers. Since she is not buying another house, she is not particular about the sale price. She wants to grant her daughter the authority to sign on her behalf regarding the sale of the house. The best choice in this situation is for Alice to sign a power of attorney, designating her daughter as a proxy to sign documents and make financial transactions related to the real estate sale.
A power of attorney is a document that gives another person (the proxy) the legal authority to make financial transactions on your behalf. It may grant proxy control over all your financial decisions or only specific ones. In the above example, if Alice executes the power of attorney, her daughter will only have control over the real estate sale; Alice will still have control over all her other financial transactions, such as paying rent at her assisted living facility, buying groceries, paying her hairstylist, and donating to charities.
You can also sign a durable power of attorney, where you retain control over your finances for the time being, but in the event that you become incapacitated (so ill that you cannot make your own decisions), the proxy named in the durable power of attorney will have the right to act on your behalf. Not every durable power of attorney relates to financial matters; you can also sign a durable power of attorney designating a proxy to make decisions about your medical care.
Like a power of attorney, adult guardianship also gives someone else decision-making power about your finances or healthcare. The difference is that power of attorney is a less formal process. To appoint a proxy by power of attorney, all you have to do is sign. Conversely, appointing a guardian for an adult involves the court. This means that power of attorney is less expensive but also leaves more room for abuse. The court constantly reviews guardianship cases to ensure that the guardian is acting in the ward’s best interest, but there is no such oversight with power of attorney. It is not hard for your stepmom to manipulate your dad into signing a power of attorney, giving her control over his finances; it is much harder for her to manipulate the court into giving her this control.
A Rolling Meadows power of attorney lawyer can help you execute a durable power of attorney. Contact Andrea Heckman Law in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, to discuss power of attorney and other aspects of your estate plan.
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