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What is an Illinois Power of Attorney?

An Illinois power of attorney is a legal document that acts as the authorization for an individual, referred to as the agent or attorney-in-fact, to make financial decisions, healthcare decisions, real estate decisions, or estate decisions on behalf of the person granting the authority. An Illinois POA is most often used for estate planning. However, there are many other instances where a POA is a useful tool.

Quick Reference:

The person granting permission is referred to as the principal, donor, or grantor.

The person receiving authorization is known as the agent or the attorney-in-fact.

IL POA Laws:

An Illinois power of attorney is a form that adheres to Illinois Power of Attorney Act. The purpose of the Illinois Power of Attorney Act is to provide specific components that must be followed to create a statutory short form POA. Under ILCS, a power of attorney document must:

  • Be created by a principal who is at least 18 years of age.
  • The principal must understand what they are signing.
  • Must appoint an agent or a successor agent who is at least 18 years of age.
  • Provide the address and telephone number for the principal and the agent.
  • Provide the agent's authority, that is, what the agent can and cannot do on behalf of the principal.
  • Be signed by two adult witnesses.
  • Be signed by the principal in the presence in front of a notary public.

The Illinois Guardianship & Advocacy Commission provides a statutory short form for a power of attorney for health care and an Illinois statutory short form power of attorney for property.  

The principal may revoke (terminate) a power of attorney as long as the principal is competent. Additionally, an Illinois power of attorney is revoked when:

  • The principal dies.
  • The principal becomes incapacitated and the power of attorney is not durable.
  • The purpose of the power of attorney is fulfilled by a specifically mentioned event or date.

Why Would You Use an Illinois Power of Attorney Form?

There are many reasons why someone would elect to use an Illinois power of attorney form to provide another person with the authority to make decisions related to their tangible personal property, financial institution transactions, tax matters, or their well-being. Some of those reasons include:

  • Their age, mental health concerns, or illness. They may want their affairs handled in specific ways. It is generally advised that everyone, including those with a terminal illness and those in perfect health, establish the appropriate power of attorney to ensure their affairs are appropriately handled and that their wishes are fulfilled.
  • Someone with a mental illness may need a power of attorney that is different than someone with a terminal illness.
  • Someone with dependent children may need a power of attorney that is different than someone without dependent children.

Each person’s need for power of attorney can vary. There are several different power of attorney options available. Before you settle on one to use, you should get legal advice. This will help you determine which is best for your needs and give you the opportunity to learn how to revoke the POA should it become necessary for you to do so.

Here are the most commonly used Illinois power of attorney documents.

General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney grants broad power, including financial power, to the agent.

  • The attorney-in-fact is given responsibility, and the legal right, to handle matters on behalf of the principal. However, this authorization is revoked if the principal dies, becomes incapciated, or if the principal revokes the POA.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is an "extended version" of a general power of attorney because it goes beyond the parameters of a general power of attorney.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A healthcare power of attorney grants the agent authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the principal. This document may also be known as a medical power of attorney.

  • A copy of the healthcare power of attorney should be given to the principal's healthcare provider. However, unless this POA is durable, it becomes invalid if the principal becomes incapacitated. Even then, it has limitations. While it can be used to make decisions related to medical treatment under Illinois law, it cannot be used to make end-of-life decisions. Rather, an advance health care directive must be completed by the principal. The Illinois Department of Public Health provides more information on how to properly create an advance health care directive.

Limited Power of Attorney

A limited power of attorney has limited power to whatever the principal specifies.

  • In many cases, an agent will have power to handle finances, or make medical decisions, but will not have authority to do other things such as conduct real estate transactions (depending on what the principal decides). Just like a general power of attorney, the authority terminates if the principal dies, becomes incapaciated, or revokes the document. It also terminates after its purpose is fulfilled.

Minor Child Power of Attorney

A minor child power of attorney allows a parent or guardian to grant decision-making rights over their minor child to a temporary guardian in the instance that the parent or guardian may not be present during a medical emergency.

  • This form is generally used if the parent or guardian must leave the country for a period of time. It is also used if the minor child temporarily travels or lives with another adult who is not their parent or guardian.

Vehicle Power of Attorney

A vehicle power of attorney grants the agent power of attorney to handle all documents relating to the title and registration of the principal's vehicle.

Tax Power of Attorney

A tax power of attorney, officially known as Form IL-2848 allows a capable individual, generally an accountant, to handle all tax preparation and submission needs on the principal's behalf to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

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