Illinois power of attorney law changed July 1

On July 1, 2011, Illinois redid its laws regarding power of attorneys (POAs) for health care and property.

POAs for property are used to control property outside of a living trust in the event of a disability. A POA for health care designates who makes health decisions if one is incapacitated.

The changes are not gigantic or earth-shattering. But it would be a wise idea for clients to update their poas just to be safe. This excellent article describes the changes in detail.

To summarize, the new law does the following:

1. Sets out new “standard” forms with supposedly simpler, more direct language.

2.  Includes a notice to the agent (the person who uses the poa) to describe better his or her duties as agent.

3.  Limits who can act as agent (no relatives, doctors or agents).

4.  Updates the POA for health care to make it easier to understand and includes some HIPAA provisions.

It would be wise to update your POAs to comply with the new law.  Most clients never have to use their POA. But if they do need it, they want the bannk or health care provider to accept it and not hassle them to death, right? Banks and health care providers can be reluctant to accept POAs that don’t look like the most recent form set out in the statute.  So why not play along and update your POAs.

Since the witnessing and notarizing are kind of confusing,  I think it’s better to have an attorney handle it for you. If you are a do-it-yourselfer (or just curious), examples of the new forms are here.

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