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Estate planning: What is a durable power of attorney?

Many Illinois residents have executed estate plans and regularly update them. Others resist the estate planning process for various reasons, such as those who simply do not like to think about their own mortality. It is worthwhile, however, to learn more about the helpful documents one can include in an estate plan, such as a durable power of attorney.

A person who signs a durable POA is called the principal. In signing, he or she is granting another person the right to manage his or her financial or medical affairs, especially if incapacitation or disability impedes the principal's own ability to do so. Thus, the person serving as durable POA becomes the principal's agent. The main difference between a durable POA and other types is that a durable document remains in effect if the principal is incapacitated or disabled.

Other types of POA are nullified in such circumstances. Having a durable power of attorney in place allows a trusted party to manage one's finances to avoid accruing liabilities or to pay for additional, specialized care as needed. A conservatorship does not override a durable POA.

Estate planning terms such as durable power of attorney can be confusing and difficult to understand. However, there are Illinois attorneys who are well-versed in such issues who can provide guidance and support to anyone seeking answers to questions regarding such topics. An attorney can also petition the court on behalf of an adult child or elder if a particular legal problem regarding an estate plan arises.

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