3601 McDonough Street, Joliet, IL 60431

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McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC

Joliet Wills and Estates Lawyer

Will County Estate Planning Attorney

Estate Planning and Probate Attorney Serving Will County

If you think you are too young to worry about documents like a power of attorney and a will, think again. These important legal documents are no longer just for the elderly. In fact, you, your spouse, and your parents, and your adult children should all have these documents. Here are five important facts to consider:

  • Once your son or daughter turns age 18, you as a parent no longer have the legal authority to make financial and healthcare decisions for your child.
  • You can even be denied access to details about your adult child's medical condition under the federal HIPAA Privacy Rule.
  • Single people are particularly vulnerable if they do not have documents specifying their wishes in the event of a medical emergency.
  • Hundreds of organs that could have become life-restoring transplants go to waste every year because family members did not know their relative's wishes.
  • If you do not specifically designate a person to make your healthcare and financial decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated, the last person you would want making those decisions for you could very well end up being the person who does.

At McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC, we realize that it is not pleasant to think about the possibility of you or someone else in your family becoming incapacitated or dying. However, it can be even more unpleasant to find yourself unprepared in an emergency situation, or to realize that you could be putting your family into a horrible situation. You may actually find it a great relief to know that your wishes and theirs are documented.

Power of Attorney (POA) for Healthcare

If you become incapacitated by a sudden illness or injury, you will need someone who can speak for you and who will make decisions about your healthcare the way you would want them made.

In a Power of Attorney for Healthcare you will state:

  • Your first-choice person to make healthcare decisions for you (your healthcare agent).
  • A second-choice and third-choice person (successor healthcare agents) in the event your first choice is unable or does not want to serve.
  • Your preference regarding life-sustaining treatment: quality of life versus length of life.
  • Any other specific directives you want to give your healthcare agent, such as whether you want to be an organ donor.

By making these choices yourself, you avoid putting your family in the situation of arguing about who will make decisions for you, what decision you would want, and what decision is morally right.

If you are the parent of a young adult, having them complete a Healthcare POA ensures that you are able to take control of any medical situation involving your child.

Power of Attorney for Property

If you become incapacitated, is there someone who will be able to access your bank and investment accounts, pay your bills, file your tax returns, and so on?

If your unmarried adult child becomes incapacitated, will you be able to immediately access their assets to help pay for their care?

These are the reasons you and other adults in your family should each sign a Power of Attorney for Property. As with a Healthcare POA, you name the person you want to serve as your decision-making agent along with one or more successor agents. You can also specify the specific types of financial and property powers you want to grant that person. For example, can they only access your bank account, or should they also have the right to sell your house, car, or other belongings? Can they handle tax matters or your behalf, or your business operations?

Your Last Will and Testament

There are two main reasons to have a will: (1) To designate a guardian for your minor children and, separately, a guardian for the assets you leave to your minor children and (2) To specify how you want your assets distributed.

You may not think you have enough property to bother making a will. You may assume that your immediate family can easily divide things up. Unfortunately, the division of property after death can cause a great deal of hardship and hard feelings. By having a will, you can provide specific directions regarding the distribution of your assets.

If you die intestate (that is, without a will) in Illinois, your property can be divided in ways you would not prefer. For example, if you leave a spouse and children, your spouse receives half of your property and your children split the remaining half. If you leave only parents or siblings, your parents and siblings inherit equal shares. If you are divorced with minor children, your ex will typically get custody of the children and, unless you have a will specifying otherwise, your ex will most likely have control over the assets that the children inherit. These are just a few of the possibilities, but are enough to help you understand the benefits of having a will.

Wills and Estate Planning Lawyer Serving Joliet and Will County

Do not wait until it is too late. Set aside a few hours now and at least have Powers of Attorney drawn up, along with a simple will, so that you and your family are prepared in the event of an emergency. Contact us at 815-727-0100 for a free initial consultation. We serve clients throughout Will County including the cities of Bolingbrook, Frankfort, Homer Glen, Joliet, Lockport, Mokena, New Lenox, Plainfield, Romeoville, and Shorewood.

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