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Do I need a lawyer to draft a durable power of attorney for property/financial decisions? | Chicago Long-Term Care Planning Attorney Anthony B. Ferraro

A durable general power of attorney for property/financial decisions allows a person to plan for care and control of property in the event he or she becomes incapacitated. It is a legal document where an individual (the principal) authorizes another (the agent) to act on the former’s behalf for financial decisions.

Powers of attorney are the single most important documents to put in place so a family member or trusted friend will have the legal authority to carry out your wishes if you can no longer speak or act for yourself. If something happens where you become unable to make decisions and you don’t have a power of attorney, your family might later get tied up with court proceedings and court supervised guardianship and/or conservatorship.

You don’t necessarily need a lawyer to draft the powers of attorney, but you have to be careful. Without the proper, precise wording, your agent might not be able to work with some of the issues important to you.

While some people buy a “form document” power of attorney from an office supply store or download one from the Internet, these documents might not address certain things. They can, however, legally authorize someone to act on another’s behalf. But, for example, the law states that your agent cannot handle certain matters unless specific working in the document empowers him or her to do so. Things that are covered in this manner include the power to make gifts on your behalf and the power to remove and/or add assets to a trust.  Laws vary from state to state, so check to see if a form document addresses key issues you want covered.

All of these powers can be vital in planning for and around Alzheimer’s care. That’s why it’s so important to complete documents for them now, while your loved one still has the mental capacity to do so. Otherwise, it could quickly become too late, as mental and cognitive abilities decline.