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Coady Law Group has established a reputation for our outstanding service and commitment to our clients throughout Central Illinois.  We understand that families are busy and setting aside time.  That is why at Coady Law Group, we allow you to access our attorneys from a variety of avenues—through our web site, via email, by telephone, and in person.  We will take time to listen to you and work through the estate planning process with you, ensuring your documents are prepared to your complete satisfaction.  We specialize in:


WILLS

A will is a legal document which allows you to designate how your property is distributed when you pass away.  A will can also name a guardian to care for your minor children, if you become unable to do so.  It is important to have a will so your family understands your final wishes.  If no will exists, the courts will decide what happens to your estate, possessions, and children.

At Coady Law Group, we work with your busy schedules and will communicate with you in a manner that works best for you.  Most estate planning information can be transmitted over the phone, online, or in person.  With a short meeting with one of our attorneys or legal professionals, we can obtain most of the information we need to prepare your estate planning documents.  After we meet with you, we will prepare your estate planning documents and provide you with drafts so that you can review them and make changes or ask questions.  After final drafts are prepared, you will schedule a short meeting at our office to execute the documents in front of a notary and witnesses.  Coady Law Group is happy to help you create a will which covers all aspects of your life and ensures your affairs are in order.  If you would like to draw up a will or create an estate plan, please complete the Will Form and we will set up a consultation.

TRUSTS

A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries.  Trusts can be arranged in many ways and can specify exactly how and when the assets pass to the beneficiaries.  You may create a trust to manage your assets, protect your assets from creditors or state and federal liens and taxes, or ensure that your beneficiaries use funds as you feel best.  As the creator of the trust (the grantor), you determine who will manage the trust (as trustee) and who will receive benefits from the trust.  After you create your trust, you must fund your trust.  The trust then receives gifts from donors, or you place the funds or assets into the trust.  Over time the trust will gain interest and experience profits.  The rules the grantor has written for the trust will determine who receives the distributions from the trust, also known as the beneficiaries.  Family members, friends, or charities can be beneficiaries.

At Coady Law Group, we are knowledgeable about a variety of trusts and encourage you to contact us to learn how we can help you create a trust.

POWERS OF ATTORNEY

A power of attorney is a document that allows you to appoint a person or organization to handle your affairs while you're unavailable or unable to do so.  A power of attorney is a written agreement that authorizes a trusted individual to make decisions on your behalf and in your best interests. That person, or agent is tasked with carrying out your wishes, often times when you are unable to direct them how to do so.  This responsibility can entail some important decisions when dealing with things like finances or your health.

The most common types of powers of attorney are the Power of Attorney for Property (or finance) and the Healthcare Power of Attorney.  A power of attorney for property is very broad and provides extensive power to the person you appoint as your agent, i.e.  This person may handle banking, buy and sell properties, file tax returns, and maintain and operate business interests.  A power of attorney for property is frequently included in an estate plan to ensure your financial needs and responsibilities are protected in the event that you are unable to manage your own financial affairs.  A health care power of attorney is a legal document that permits your power of attorney to make decisions for you regarding your healthcare needs in the event that you are unavailable or unable to do so.  If you would like to designate a power of attorney or create an estate plan, please complete the Power of Attorney Form and we will also set up a consultation.

Below are some questions to think about before our meeting:

WHY DO I NEED A HEALTHCARE POWER OF ATTORNEY?
No one can predict when a serious illness or accident might occur. When it does, you may need someone else to speak or make health care decisions for you. If you plan now, you can increase the chances that the medical treatment you get will be the treatment you want.  In Illinois, you can choose someone to be your "health care agent".  Your agent is the person you trust to make health care decisions for you if you are unable or do not want to make them yourself.  These decisions should be based on your personal values and wishes.  It is important to put your choice of agent in writing.  The written form is often called an "advance directive".

WHOM SHOULD I CHOOSE TO BE MY HEALTH CARE AGENT?
You can pick a family member to act as your agent, but it is not required.  Your agent will have the responsibility to make medical treatment decisions, even if other people close to you might request a different decision.  The selection of your agent should be done carefully, as he or she will have ultimate decision-making authority for your treatment decisions once you are no longer able to voice your preferences.  Choose a family member, friend, or other person who:

  • Is at least 18 years old
  • Knows you well, and can be there for you when you need them
  • You trust to do what is best for you and is willing to carry out your wishes, even if he or she may not agree with your wishes
  • Would be comfortable talking with and questioning your physicians and other health care providers
  • Would not be too upset to carry out your wishes if you became very sick


WHAT ARE THE THINGS I WANT MY HEALTH CARE AGENT TO KNOW?
The selection of your health care agent should be considered carefully, as your agent will have the ultimate decision making authority once this document goes into effect, in most instances after you are no longer able to make your own decisions.  While the goal is for your agent to make decisions based on your preferences, and in the majority of circumstances this is what happens, please know that the law does allow your agent to make decisions to direct or refuse health care interventions or withdraw treatment.  Therefore, it is important to talk with your agent and your family about such things as:

  • How important is it to you to avoid pain and suffering?
  • Is it more important to you to live as long as possible, or to avoid prolonged suffering or disability?
  • Would you rather be at home or in a hospital for the final stages of your life?
  • Do you have religious, spiritual, or cultural beliefs that you want your agent and others to consider?     
  • Do you have an existing advanced directive, such as a living will, that contains your specific wishes about health care that is only delaying your death?


WHAT KIND OF DECISIONS CAN MY AGENT MAKE?
If there is ever a period of time when your physician determines that you cannot make your own health care decisions, or if you do not want to make your own decisions, some of the decisions your agent could make include:

  • Speaking with physicians and other health care providers about your condition
  • Seeing medical records and approve who else can see them
  • Giving permission for medical tests, medicines, surgery, or other treatments
  • Deciding to accept, withdraw, or decline treatments designed to keep you alive if you are near death or not likely to recover
  • Agreeing or declining to donate your organs or your whole body if you have not already made this decision yourself
  • Talking with your other loved ones to help come to a decision, noting that your designated agent will have the final say over your other loved ones


WHAT IF MY AGENT IS NOT AVAILABLE OR IS UNWILLING TO MAKE DECISIONS FOR ME?
If the person who is your first choice is unable to carry out this role, then the second agent you chose will make the decisions.  Your second agent is called your successor agent.  They function as a back-up agent to your first choice.  The second agent (successor agent) may act if your first agent is unwilling or unable to act.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I DO NOT CHOOSE A HEALTH CARE AGENT?
If you become unable to make your own health care decisions and have not named an agent in writing, your physician and other health care providers will ask a family member, friend, or guardian to make decisions for you.  In Illinois, a law directs which of these individuals will be consulted.  In that law, each of these individuals is called a "surrogate".  There are reasons why you may want to name an agent rather than rely on a surrogate:

  • The person or people listed by this law may not be who you would want to make decisions for you
  • Some family members or friends might not be able or willing to make decisions as you would want them to
  • Family members and friends may disagree with one another about the best decisions
  • Under some circumstances, a surrogate may not be able to make the same kinds of decisions that an agent can make


WHAT IF THERE IS NO ONE AVAILABLE WHOM I TRUST TO BE MY AGENT?
In this situation, it is especially important to talk to your attorney, your physician, and other health care providers and create written guidance about what you want or do not want, in case you are ever critically ill and cannot express your own wishes.  You can complete a living will.

WHAT DO I DO WITH MY HEALTHCARE POWER OF ATTORNEY AFTER I EXECUTE IT?

  • Give a copy to your agent and to each of your successor agents
  • Give another copy to your physician
  • Take a copy with you when you go to the hospital.  Coady Law Group can provide you with a digital copy that you can keep with you
  • Show it to your family and friends and others who care for you


WHAT IF I CHANGE MY MIND?
You may change your mind at any time. If you do, contact our office and we can assist you to revise or revoke the power the attorney.

LIVING WILLS

A living will, also called a directive to physicians or advance directive, is a document which enables people to state their wishes for end-of-life medical care, in case they become unable to communicate their decisions.  It has no power after death.  Living wills usually include a health care power of attorney.  Contact our office and we will gladly guide you through the process of creating a living will.