Aging Illinois residents can help protect their futures by taking essential steps to plan ahead. When you have a power of attorney, you can rest assured that any critical medical or financial decisions will follow your wishes as carefully as possible.
A power of attorney (POA) is a legally binding document that assigns a trustworthy individual to make necessary decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. You can assign a power of attorney for finances as well as a power of attorney for medical decisions. Each has its advantages.
Benefits of a financial POA
Assigning a power of attorney for finances can help in a variety of ways. Your financial POA should be someone who understands what you would want to do with your finances if you become incapable of doing them yourself.
A financial POA will be able to:
- Access your financial records
- Use your funds to pay your bills or taxes
- Use your funds to pay for medical expenses
- Sell or transfer your assets
- Manage any of your real estate properties
You have the authorization to determine how much access your financial POA will have when you draft the document. The POA will come into effect if you become disabled in any way and can no longer make these financial decisions yourself.
Benefits of a medical POA
A medical POA functions similarly to a financial POA, only they will make decisions regarding your healthcare. If you become injured in an accident or develop an illness that impairs your ability to make sound decisions, your medical POA will step in to make those choices in your stead.
A medical POA can:
- Access your medical records
- Changing your health insurance
- Choose where you are hospitalized
- Choose which doctors will work with you
- Deny the use of particular medication
- Decide visitation times
- Decide how to handle your body after death
Your medical power of attorney should know the limitations of their responsibilities as well. It’s also useful for them to know what to do in certain situations ahead of time so they can follow your wishes accordingly.
Do I need both?
Ultimately, it’s your choice to have both a financial POA and a medical POA. Having both legally assigned POAs can provide you with peace of mind. With both in place, important decisions won’t be left up to your relatives on the spot. Instead, your POA can step in and make the appropriate decisions that you previously discussed.
And, in the case of unexpected circumstances, you will have assigned a POA who respects your values and will make the best decisions possible in your name.