In general, you have the duty to take care of and manage her estate, even more carefully than you would your own. You must be frugal, conservative and cautious. The court may authorize you to spend your aunt’s money for her comfort, support and even the education, if appropriate, as well as certain expenses of your aunt’s family. If the estate has enough money, you can be paid for serving as guardian. Your bill for services must be supported by careful records and approved by the court.
Legal FAQs: Estate Planning
While you are not required to spend your own money for these expenses, you may be responsible for seeking the money needed from the person’s assets and income. Your primary responsibility as a personal guardian is to ensure that the person in your care gets the medical, dental, grooming and other needed professional services that assist him or her in the development of maximum self-reliance and independence.
Now, while you are well, is the time to decide what kind of health care you will want if you are ever unable to make those decisions. You can do this by signing a Power of Attorney for Health Care and/or a Living Will. A Power of Attorney legally identifies the person who will have the power to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so, including continuing or stopping medical treatment in accordance with your wishes. The law does not automatically grant these powers to your family or friends. Also, under the Illinois Health Care Surrogate Act, there is an established order of individuals, typically family members, who can make decisions on your behalf should there be no health care power of attorney.
The Illinois Power of Attorney Act allows you to name an agent to act on your behalf if you cannot make medical or financial decisions for yourself. By executing a Health Care Power of Attorney, your partner will have the right to carry out your health care wishes if you become incapacitated. A Power of Attorney for Property will allow your partner to handle your financial matters if you are unable to do so. You should see an attorney to discuss your specific estate planning situation and the options available to you.
A living trust is a legal document you create which bypasses the costly and time-consuming process of probate. It is often used by those with complex financial and personal circumstances. A living trust is not for everyone. The best decision comes from carefully weighing the pros and cons based on your personal situation in consultation with an estate planning attorney.