As Illinois residents set up their estate plans, they might consider appointing someone to act as their attorney-in-fact. An attorney-in-fact is someone who, despite not having any sort of legal training, is able to make legal decisions on behalf of a different person.
Attorneys-in-fact are usually appointed by someone in their estate plan to take power of attorney should something happen to them, such as being mentally incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions for themselves.
What decisions can attorneys-in-fact make?
Someone who is given power of attorney is able to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of that person. On a baseline level, this means they can usually spend your money on your behalf – like continuing to pay your bills while you’re in the hospital, for example.
Sometimes it goes into more complex territories. A person with power of attorney could also buy or sell property on your behalf, close or open accounts, and sign contracts in your name.
An estate plan can sometimes limit what a person is able to do with this power. By law, a person serving as attorney-in-fact can’t fulfill a contract requiring your personal services, vote in elections for you, or make an estate plan for you.
Who can serve as attorney-in-fact?
Choosing someone to give power of attorney isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. It should be someone who you trust immensely, like a close friend or family member.
It also helps if this person lives close to you. Serving as attorney-in-fact takes a lot of time and energy, and a thorough conversation should be had prior to just appointing a person to serve as attorney-in-fact.
It’s important to make sure the person you pick has the resources to handle the job. A banker, accountant, or another professional can also serve as attorney-in-fact for you.