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Understanding Powers of Attorney

 Posted on February 09, 2023 in Estate Planning

Barrington power of attorney lawyerWhen Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field on January 2, it was an alarming reminder of the need for people who can help oversee important medical decisions when a person becomes unable to care for themselves. A power of attorney is a powerful legal document that designates an agent to perform specified actions, including making health care decisions.

The Illinois Power of Attorney Act became law as 755 Illinois Compiled Statute (ILCS) 45/ and provides that the requirements for a power of attorney are an agent being designated with a written description of their powers, a properly signed power of attorney document that is signed by the principal that is properly witnessed by a person at least 18 years of age, and a principal acknowledging and identifying their own signature and having the document notarized. Only individuals of sound mind who are mentally competent can legally sign and appoint a power of attorney.

Types of Powers of Attorney

Illinois generally recognizes four kinds of powers of attorney:

  • General Power of Attorney — A general power is a kind of power of attorney that allows agents to take any legal action their principals can take. Such powers of attorney are undoubtedly some of the most powerful because they allow agents to pay bills, make insurance claims, and transfer financial assets, but they also have limited authority that ends when a principal dies or becomes incapacitated.
  • Limited Power of Attorney — A limited power of attorney is also known as a special power of attorney. Powers granted in a limited power of attorney are usually granted only for a specific time or task. A person may need another person to sign the deed to property. Authority is very limited in these powers of attorney as it will end on a date specified in the power of attorney.
  • Durable Power of Attorney — A durable power of attorney will involve many of the same rights as a general power of attorney, but this document will grant rights when a principal becomes incapacitated. The term incapacitated could mean medically such as a person entering a coma, but it could also mean mentally if they are admitted to a psychiatric ward or legally if they are incarcerated. When a principal does not have a durable power of attorney named before their incapacitation, a court will appoint a conservator or guardian. Durable power of attorney rights end when a principal can legally act on their own again.
  • Springing Power of Attorney — A springing power of attorney will only go into effect after a principal loses capacity to make the kinds of decisions listed in the legal document. An agent must then take over when it comes to making decisions. A springing power of attorney will go into action when a person lacks capacity. Springing powers of attorney allow people to retain as much control over decision-making while they are able. An agent can then step in to take all necessary actions.

Contact a Barrington Power of Attorney Lawyer

Did you need help crafting the right kind of power of attorney in Illinois? The Barrington power of attorney lawyers at Lucas Law can help you determine the decisions that are most important to you and work to create the legal document you need to protect your interests. 

Our firm has three decades of experience handling estate planning concerns. You can call 847-381-8700 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation. 



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