THE NEW POWER OF ATTORNEY ACT
If you’ve ever talked to a financial planner or attorney in the probate field, they most likely recommend 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 (“POA”) 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. Each type allows a person you designate (your “agent”) to make decisions in your place. It is important, therefore, to choose the person to whom you give authority carefully.
The Illinois General Assembly recently passed an act that made sweeping changes to the Illinois Power of Attorney Act. The new Act takes 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 will be
The agent’s standard of care is elevated, meaning the agent must exercise the power cautiously
There is more oversight of the agent’s actions
There are expanded remedies against an agent who abuses his/her fiduciary responsibilities
The new form provides notice to an agent under a POA for property, describing his/her responsibilities.
The new form provides default provisions for co-agents in a non-statutory POA for property
There are limitations on witnesses to the execution of a POA, to avoid conflicts of interest
The latest changes in a response to HIPPA and the Disposition of Remains Act are incorporated into the POA for Healthcare
If you currently have a Power of Attorney, you should review it and make arrangements to execute a new one on or before July 1, 2011, because the new act provides protections that were not previously available. If you do not have a Power of Attorney, you should seriously consider having one drafted along with you will. These documents are available at no charge to Local 50 members through the legal service plan. For more information, please contact the Bachlaw Office at (309) 673-0100.