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DuPage County estate planning attorney

In the state of Illinois, couples and life partners currently have more options for how they can legally define their relationship than ever before. Same-sex marriage has been recognized throughout the state since 2014 and across the country since 2015. While some couples may wish to have the legal recognition of marriage, others may not. This may be the case in a variety of relationships, regardless of the partners’ genders. What couples who do not wish to marry must understand is that “common law marriage” is not recognized by the state of Illinois. This distinction has a serious impact on the need that unmarried couples in Illinois have for estate planning.

What Is Common Law Marriage?

“Common law marriage” is the term that generally defines the status of two people who agree to marry and live together but have not actually taken the legal steps required to procure a marriage license and register their union with the state. Each state sets its own guidelines for recognizing common law marriages. In Illinois, there is no recognition of such unions. Regardless of how long a couple has been together, Illinois probate law essentially treats unmarried partners as strangers to one another. Neither party is presumed to have any rights to the other’s property upon his or her death.

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Lombard estate planning attorneysPeople vary dramatically in their feelings regarding medical treatment. Some people want every possible medical intervention to be taken, even if those medical treatments will only slightly extend the duration of their lives. Other people only want the bare minimum actions taken if they become seriously ill or injured.

Have you ever considered the types of medical treatments you would want to undergo if you became extremely sick? What if you were too sick to express these wishes? A power of attorney for healthcare is a type of estate planning instrument that can allow you to take your future medical care decisions into your own hands.

Health Care Power of Attorney Basics

Through a power of attorney for health care, you can designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. The document gives this individual authority to make decisions about your medical treatments if you cannot do so yourself. Instead of a doctor who you may have never met making these decisions—and who might not share your personal values—you can entrust these important decisions to someone you know and trust. The individual you designate to speak on your behalf is called a health care proxy or agent. Your proxy may be a close friend, spouse, family member, or anyone else you choose. Once you have chosen who your proxy will be, you can have a conversation with him or her about the actions you do and do not want taken if you become gravely ill.

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DuPage County estate planning attorneysWhen creating your estate plan, it is vital to choose the right person to be your power of attorney, or agent. Powers of attorney have a tremendous amount of responsibility when it comes to estate planning, so choosing a representative who is accountable and trustworthy is imperative. A power of attorney document allows you to authorize someone to act on your behalf if you cannot do so due to illness or other incapacitation. The authority given to a power of attorney is largely dependent upon the document’s language. For help drafting a power of attorney document or for other estate planning assistance, contact a qualified estate planning attorney.

Types of Powers of Attorney

A non-durable power of attorney is designed to provide only a temporary solution. This document can be custom-made to authorize your agent to complete specific transaction. For example, you could give authorization to another person to sign a document that requires your signature if you are unable to do so yourself for some reason. A non-durable power of attorney terminates when you lose the mental capacity. Alternatively, a durable power of attorney is a more permanent solution which stays in effect even if you become incapacitated and cannot manage your own financial affairs. Both types of power of attorney can be designed to give your agent the level of authority you feel comfortable with.

The two types of powers of attorney listed above apply to matters involving property. By comparison, a health care power of attorney gives your agent the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so.

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Illinois State Bar Association DuPage County Bar Association Northwest Suburban Bar Association American Inns of Court DuPage Association of Woman Lawyers National Association of Woman Business Owners Illinois Association Criminal Defense Lawyers DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
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