17 October 2022 / Casey B. Hicks / Laura E. Alms

Illinois POAs and Guardianships: Answering Your Top 3 Questions

When it comes to powers of attorney (POAs) and guardianships in Illinois, you may be asking yourself, “Who’s really in charge?” or “How can I avoid common pitfalls?” In the latest episode of Coffee With Casey, shareholder and the firm’s Chicago office managing attorney Casey Hicks invited attorney Laura Alms to help answer these questions and more over their morning coffees! 
Key topics included: 
  • Defining different types of Illinois POAs and guardianships 
  • Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each 
  • Applying best practices
Here is a quick recap of a couple of key topics discussed during this engaging session.

1. What do POAs and guardianships do?

These legal avenues grant one person the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of another living person. There can be a voluntary POA or it can be ordered by a court, making it a guardianship. Both types of authority are created and governed by Illinois statute. 
For the most part, the types of decisions that can be made by a POA or guardian are related to health and financial matters. 

2. What exactly are powers of attorney (POAs)?

A POA is a document in which a “principal” grants an “agent” the authority to make decisions on behalf of the principal. In Illinois, POAs are standardized by the Illinois Power of Attorney Act (755 ILCS 45/3 and 755 ILCS 45/4).
In terms of scope, POA authority is broad but can be limited by language in the document. Generally, a POA exercises authority related to whether or not the principal is incapacitated. The agent also retains the powers set forth in the document until the death of the principal or until the POA is amended. 
In Illinois, a property POA must be signed by the principal, a witness, and it must be notarized. It cannot be witnessed and notarized by:
  1. Agent or successor agent;
  2. An attending physician or mental health service provider or a relative of the physician or provider;
  3. An owner or executive of the healthcare facility, including parent entities;
  4. A parent, sibling, or descendent of either the principal or the agent; or
  5. The spouse of a parent, sibling, or descendent of the principal or the agent. 

3. What are the benefits of a POA?

The benefits of a POA include:
  • Voluntary – the principal exercises full choice, authority, and control over the relationship
  • Private – generally not filed with the court
  • Customizable
    • You can add successor grants
    • Can be changed to fit the specific needs and wants of the principal
    • Can be limited in time and in scope
    • Can be conditioned upon capacity
  • Flexible – A POA can be easily amended and updated
  • Healthcare power – A POA eliminates the need for a living will or advanced directive 
  • Authority – A POA is already in place in the event of an emergency
Did you miss this episode of Coffee With Casey? Watch it here.
If you have additional questions about POA or guardianships, you can contact Casey and/or Laura at any time. 
This blog is not a solicitation for business and it is not intended to constitute legal advice on specific matters, create an attorney-client relationship or be legally binding in any way. 

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