Help Me Understand Power(s) of Attorney
February 21, 2014 8:09 AM Subscribe
What are the parameters that determine how and when a power of attorney becomes active or inactive?
I work in a field where I deal with healthcare POAs intermittently (thought I'm also interested in responses regarding property/financial POAs as well). For all of their detail (I'm in Illinois, btw), it's not exactly clear how and under what circumstances a power of attorney is activated. Clearly if someone is unconscious or comatose that would necessitate going to a POA, but what if a person is cognitively compromised to the extent that they may be able to speak for themselves on basic decisions, but not comprehend more complex ones? And what about circumstances where there is a reasonable expectation of recovery/improvement over time (e.g., after a minor stroke or something like that)? Some specific questions below:
Does the law dictate who, legally, can activate a power of attorney?
Once activated, is it a global, all-or-none thing, or can it be issue by issue (e.g., perhaps an individual is capable of making a clear decision that they do not want to undergo any surgeries, no matter the circumstances, but they do not have the capacity to comprehend the relative risks/benefits of other treatment options available to them)?
Once activated, does it remain active in perpetuity? If not, what parameters determine how/when it would be deactivated?
Can anyone recommend specific, digestible resources to help me understand the legalities and practicalities of these situations?