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Lombard estate planning attorneyThinking about the end of your life is not an easy task, especially if you are still fairly young or currently in the prime of your life. Yet failing to do so can have serious consequences for you and those you love the most. Of course, you are not alone. In fact, statistics suggest that only about 40 percent of American adults have a valid will. Do not continue leaving your family unprotected. Learn how creating an estate plan can improve the future of your family and how you can create one that protects everyone’s best interests.

How Creating a Plan Can Protect You

People do not generally consider how an estate plan can help them, yet there are some clear benefits to having one. If, for example, you become incapacitated, a valid power of attorney can help ensure your wishes are followed. You can name someone you trust to make any medical decisions you have not already considered. It is also possible to assign someone to watch over your financial affairs. In short, an estate plan can protect and preserve your interests in the face of the unthinkable.

How Creating a Plan Can Protect Your Family

A valid and well-designed estate plan can protect your family, regardless of whether you have become incapacitated or have passed away. By having someone you trust assigned to your financial matters, your estate is preserved, even if you are incapacitated. By having a clearly defined will, you can save your loved ones the stress and worry of probate or long, drawn-out battles over who gets what. Your plan can also reduce the state and federal taxes that your family may have otherwise been responsible for paying.

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DuPage County estate planning attorneysWhen one thinks of estate planning, the main legal tool that most often comes to mind is the last will and testament. Of course, having a will in place is tremendously important. Not only does a will give you the peace of mind that your possessions and property will end up in the right hands after your death, it also helps your loved ones wrap up your estate much more quickly and efficiently than would otherwise be possible. Even though wills are vital, they are not the only estate planning documents we should be concerned about. As you plan for your future, make sure not to overlook these other important legal and financial implements. 

Advance Health Care Directive

An advance health care directive is a plan that is made ahead of time in regard to a person’s health care. Illinois law allows citizens to create four different types of advance directives: a medical power of attorney; a living will; mental health treatment preference declaration; and a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR)/Practitioner Orders For Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). Depending on your circumstances, you may wish to use more than one of these types of documents to plan for your future.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyResearch shows that only about half of Americans have any estate planning documents in place. Those without a last will and testament and other critical estate planning documents risk having their estate decisions made for them if they pass away or become incapacitated. One vital piece of estate planning that is important for anyone to have is a power of attorney. A durable power of attorney is a legal document which gives someone else the authority to act on your behalf if you cannot do your yourself.

Types of Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney assigns an agent which will be responsible for the medical decisions, legal choices, personal banking, investment, insurance and real estate transactions of the person signing the document (the principal) should they become incapacitated. A special power of attorney allows the principal to be more specific. He or she can narrow down the types of choices the agent(s) can make. It is possible to have several different powers of attorney for different purposes. An individual may choose their spouse or family member to make medical decisions on their behalf, but he or she may choose another individual to make financial or business decisions in the event they are incapacitated.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyersEstate planning can be a difficult task for many individuals. Rare is the person who is excited about confronting his or her own mortality. The reality is that none of us will live forever, and estate planning affords us the opportunity to provide for our family members and loved ones well beyond our lifetime. Some elements of estate planning, however, are intended to take effect, if necessary, while you are still living so that your affairs can be properly managed, no matter what happens to you. Powers of Attorney are among the most important estate planning instruments, but they are often overlooked by those who are unfamiliar with their application.

Two Types

There are two different kinds of Powers of Attorney (POA): Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Health Care. The two categories refer to the subject matter covered by the document, but both types give a trusted friend or family member the authority to make decisions for you in the event you are not able to make them for yourself. As their names imply, a POA for Property gives your chosen individual or entity—known as an agent—the power to make decisions regarding your finances, assets, and debts while a POA for Health Care appoints an agent to make medical and health-related decisions. By using POAs properly, you can help protect your family from uncertainty and unnecessary costs associated with guardianship proceedings.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyersAs you look toward the future, you may realize that there could be a time when you are limited in your decision-making abilities. It may become impossible for you to express your wishes regarding your finances, property, and even your own medical care. To prepare for such a possibility, Illinois law allows you to select an individual to serve as your power of attorney for these types of decisions. Your power of attorney will have the authority to make decisions on your behalf if and when you are no longer able to do so.

The Right Person

The individual that you choose to serve as your power of attorney must be capable of handling his or her assigned responsibilities. This means that he or she should:

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Lombard estate planning attorneyAs with most estate planning arrangements, you, thankfully, have a say over who you appoint as your “agent” when it comes to your health care power of attorney. Under this planning tool, you are considered the “principal” and the person you appoint as “agent” is granted various permissions regarding your health care.

In short, a health care power of attorney, or POA, is a type of advance directive which allows you to designate someone you trust to make decisions about your health, on your behalf, in the event you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself due to illness or debilitative condition. You can create a binding power of attorney for your health by using the standard state form or by writing your own.

How the Powers Are Determined

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Lombard estate planning lawyerWhen it comes to estate planning and documenting your wishes regarding your health care, it is important to know which options you have and to understand your rights before you put anything in writing. After all, this is your chance to speak your mind concerning what you do and do not want in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your own health.

Acquainting yourself with the full scope of the options available to you can help you select the advance directives that best suit your needs and desires. Having these plans in place not only offers the advantage of bringing you peace of mind, but it can also benefit your loved ones as well by providing them with the comfort knowing you are prepared for the unexpected.

The Four Main Advance Directive Options in Illinois

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Lombard estate planning attorneyIt is never easy for one to think about the end of their life, and preparing a living will can feel unsettling as it stirs up a mixture of emotions. Despite the unpleasant nature of the subject, a living will can actually be a very useful and powerful tool when it comes to protecting your best interests, in turn offering a sense of peace of mind. Knowing you have addressed your wishes, boundaries, and directives regarding your health, property, and finances can give you a sense of accomplishment and make things easier for your loved ones.

How Does a Living Will Benefit Me?

In the state of Illinois, there are two kinds of power of attorney: one that covers health care and personal issues, and one that covers the management of property. Similar to these documents, a living will is an advance directive that also serves a specific purpose. It exists to allow a person who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness to express their desire to have death-delaying procedures withheld or withdrawn in the event they cannot speak for themselves.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerUtilizing the Power of Attorney to manage what happens to your property is an important part of will, estate, and trust planning. Everyone has different needs and different circumstances when it comes to making arrangements for the handling of their possessions and accounts, but no matter how much or how little you own, it is helpful to know your belongings are protected and that your wishes are carried out.

The Purpose of Power of Attorney for Property in Illinois

The main purpose of the Power of Attorney in terms of property is to designate and grant a specific individual the authority to handle and make decisions regarding your various financial affairs. In the state of Illinois, this power allows that person (also referred to as an “agent”) to sell or dispose of your property, even without your consent. It also deems the agent right to make such decisions without giving you any advance notice. Ultimately, Power of Attorney is a tool that allows you to officially document and voice your wishes, how you do or do not want them carried out, and to whom you would like the power given to in the event that you cannot--or do not want to--make the final say on a financial matter.

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Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, Illinois Law, Guardianship, Illinois Family Law, Illinois Family Lawyer, Illinois Family Law Attorney, Arlington Heights Family Law Attorney, Legal Guardian, Health Care Surrogate Act, Disabled Adult, Power of AttorneyTaking care of a disabled adult, or helping them care for themselves, can be one of the most stressful and difficult ordeals a person and family can go through. In many cases, families consider assuming legal guardianship to make things easier. However, this is often the most restrictive alternative available to the disabled person. There are many alternatives to assuming guardianship in Illinois available under the law.

According to the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, it is important to explore the alternatives to guardianship before making a decision. After all, guardianship often means having the family’s private affairs examined publicly in court, and inviting court supervision for the future. Whenever possible, the situation should first be discussed with a team of professionals, including medical staff, social workers, caretakers, and an experienced attorney as well as family and friends.

Under Illinois law, an alternate means of medical decision-making for the disabled individual may be established under the Health Care Surrogate Act for a person who has become incapacitated.

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