Effective July 1, 2011, Illinois enacted a new power of attorney law that better outlines the rights and responsibilities of those acting as your agent and the responsibilities you transfer to someone to act on your behalf.

Powers of Attorney are necessary in all estate planning, but especially for those drafting only wills.  Will operate at death only, so if you become disabled and own things in your own name, it will be difficult to have someone other than you deal with your property on your behalf without a court process.

The Power of Attorney Law modifies the duties under which an agent acts and allows for definite revocation of prior powers of attorney.  Health care powers have been modified to include authority to provide for cremation, disposition of remains, access to medical records protected under HIPAA, appointment of guardians to avoid a court process and allow for the addition of other powers that you may desire.

Since these powers of attorney allow for the grant of a great deal of authority for someone to work on your behalf, they should not be entered into lightly.  We are living longer as a society and the prospect of having to use these documents is greater than ever.  How they are used will affect not only the quality of your life but your legacy.  If you have any questions about this new law, talk to your estate planning attorney to make sure your plans do what you want.

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