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Showing posts from July, 2017

Illinois Supreme Court Clarifies POA Fiduciary Duties

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The recent ruling of the Illinois Supreme Court, In re Estate of Thomas F. Shelton, presents the sad tale of a dispute between siblings over a family farm, and the fiduciary duties required of power of attorney agents.  Mr. and Mrs. Shelton both passed away in 2012.  Each named their daughter as executor of their estates, but in a "divide and conquer" approach to naming fiduciaries that is not uncommon for those with more than one adult child, Mr. and Mrs. Shelton named each other as primary agent for Power of Attorney for Property or financial matters, and their son as backup agent (the daughter was named as the second backup). (The opinion does not specify, but it is likely they each named each other as first choice for executor, but the backup order was reversed as to the son and daughter). 

The POAs were signed in 2005, using the "statutory short form" POA for Property.  Fast forward then to late 2011, approximately one year before the death of both Mr. and M…

No, You Can't Sign as the Witness on a Power of Attorney Appointing Yourself as Agent!

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I recently received a call on behalf of a former client who had apparently suffered some serious medical issues.  The gentleman who called informed me that, since I last communicated with the former client, he had signed a new Power of Attorney for Property ("POA") appointing the caller his agent.  He told me that they had not worked with an attorney in preparing this new POA but just "found one online." The agent sought to review/obtain a copy of the former client's file at my office, including his estate planning documents.  I asked the agent to send me a copy of the new POA so I could take a look at it.

When I reviewed the new POA document, I saw the typewritten provision where the former client named the caller his agent.  I then checked to ensure the document had been signed by the principal, witnessed and notarized properly.   There were two attesting witnesses who signed the document - the named agent himself and his spouse (the spouse was also named as…