Who Should I Choose to Be My Power of Attorney?

power of attorney, Wheaton estate planning lawyerHave you ever thought about who should handle your affairs if you became physically or mentally capacitated? Sadly, unexpected accidents and illnesses can affect even individuals who are otherwise young and healthy. A power of attorney is a type of advance directive that allows a person to designate a representative or “agent” to speak on his or her behalf in the event of a catastrophic illness or injury. The term “power of attorney” is used to refer to the estate planning tool as well as the individual who is chosen to act as the agent. This is a heavy responsibility, so it is important to choose someone who is capable of handling the role.

Financial Power of Attorney and Power of Attorney for Healthcare

A power of attorney for healthcare, also called a medical power of attorney, allows you to choose a representative to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to express your own medical wishes. For example, if complications arise during surgery and you are under anesthesia, your power of attorney for healthcare may need to make decisions on your behalf about how to proceed.

A financial power of attorney allows you to choose a representative to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Your agent will be responsible for paying your bills and handling other monetary or real estate matters.  Some individuals choose to assign both medical and financial responsibilities to the same person, while others choose to assign these roles to two different people.

Considerations When Assigning Powers of Attorney

Choosing the person who will take on the huge responsibility of being your agent is often a difficult task. You may be conflicted about who you should assign as your financial or medical power or attorney. When choosing an agent, it is essential to choose someone who you can trust. You must also ask yourself whether or not this person can handle the duties for which he or she will be responsible.

For example, you may be extremely close with your adult son, but he might struggle to pay his bills or file his taxes on time. Although you may love him dearly, he may not be the best choice for managing your financial affairs. You should also consider how a potential agent would handle a decision that other family members or friends may disagree with. For example, perhaps you explain in advance to your medical power of attorney that you do not want to be kept alive via artificial ventilation if you are close to death. If you later become fatally sick or injured and the question of artificial ventilation arises, will he or she be strong enough to follow your wishes even if other loved ones disagree?

Contact a Wheaton, Illinois Estate Planning Lawyer

For estate planning guidance from a seasoned DuPage County estate planning attorney, contact Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. Call our office today at 630-665-2500 and schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your needs.

Sources:

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/managing-wealth/042216/medical-vs-financial-power-attorney-reasons-separate-them.asp

https://www.verywellhealth.com/characteristics-for-choosing-power-of-attorney-4134991

What Is the Purpose of a Living Will?

living will, Wheaton estate planning lawyerYou may have already considered how you want your assets distributed to heirs after you pass away, but this is not the only issue that estate plans can address. Have you ever wondered what types of medical treatment you would want if you became incapacitated through a serious illness or injury? For example, if you were involved in a car accident and left comatose, would you want doctors to do everything possible to extend your life? Would you want a feeding tube, mechanical ventilation, or other death-delaying procedures? Would you want to let nature take its course?

Through a living will, you can make these types of decisions in advance. This saves your loved ones from being forced to make these decisions for you and also gives you the peace of mind knowing that your medical wishes will be followed.

The Terri Schiavo Case Emphasized the Need for a Living Will

Although it was over 20 years ago, many people still remember the media frenzy surrounding Terri Schiavo. The young woman fell into an irreversible persistent vegetative state after suffering a cardiac arrest at age 26. Her husband believed that Terri would not want to be kept alive via long-term life support and elected to have her feeding tube removed. The woman’s parents strongly disagreed and wanted their daughter to continue receiving artificial hydration and nutrition. The case resulted in a seven-year legal battle.

Even if you do not have strong feelings about the types of death-delaying procedures you do and do not want to undergo if you become incapacitated, making a decision now saves your family from the possible burden of making these decisions on your behalf. You can do so by preparing a living will.

What Types of Procedures Can Be Addressed in a Living Will?

Everyone has their own beliefs about life and death. Some people want every procedure possible used to keep them alive for as long as possible. Others do not want to be kept alive artificially if they have no awareness or quality of life. Through a living will, you can choose the specific medical procedures you do and do not want used in certain circumstances. You can make decisions about procedures including but not limited to:

  • Organ donations
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Tube feeding
  • Antibiotics or antiviral medications
  • Dialysis
  • Palliative care

A living will puts you in control of your future medical care. It may also save your family members from the burdensome task of guessing what types of end-of-life care you would want. To learn more about creating a living will, speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer.

Contact a DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyer

To get started on your living will or for other estate planning needs, contact Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. Call our office at 630-665-2500 and schedule a confidential consultation with a skilled Wheaton estate planning attorney. We can help find the tools that best fit your unique circumstances.

 

Sources:

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/bioethicist-tk-n333536

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/living-wills/art-20046303

Should I Include a No-Contest Clause in My Will?

no-contest, Wheaton estate planning attorneysThere are a number of reasons that a will or other estate planning document may be invalid. If the testator was not of sound mind due to dementia or another health condition when he or she created the will, for example, the will may not represent the testator’s true wishes. If a testator was coerced or tricked into the provisions contained in his or her will, it is also invalid. If a loved one has reason to believe that the directions contained in a deceased person’s will should not be followed, they may contest the will in court. Unfortunately, some beneficiaries may contest a will simply because they do not like the instructions contained within the will. If you are concerned that someone may challenge the validity of your will after you pass away, you may want to consider adding a “no-contest” clause.

Basics of No-Contest Clauses

There is no way to completely prevent your will from being challenged after your death. However, you can discourage beneficiaries from challenging it. A no-contest clause is a provision in a will or trust that establishes certain “penalties” if a beneficiary challenges the validity of the will or trust. For example, perhaps you are worried that one of your children will be unhappy with his or her share of your estate. You worry that he or she will contest the validity of your will in an attempt to have the will thrown out. You could include a no-contest clause that states that if a beneficiary disputes the validity of your will and loses, he or she will lose part or all of the inheritance assigned to him or her. The possibility of losing a significant inheritance can make a beneficiary think twice before challenging your will.

Limitations of an Illinois No-Contest Clause

It is important to note that a no-contest clause cannot guarantee that your will may not be contested. A beneficiary may still choose to challenge the will even at the risk of losing his or her inheritance. If the will is found to be invalid, the directions contained within the will may be disregarded and your estate may instead be distributed according to intestate law. A no-contest clause also does not discourage people who are not named as beneficiaries from challenging the will. The best way to prevent your will from being successfully challenged is to work with an experienced estate planning attorney who can ensure the validity of your will.

Contact a DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyer

To learn more about no-contest clauses as well as other estate planning options, contact Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. Call us at today at 630-665-2500 to schedule a confidential consultation with and experienced Wheaton estate planning attorney.

 

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075500050HArt%2E+VIII&ActID=2104&ChapterID=0&SeqStart=10100000&SeqEnd=10400000