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
The contents of safe-deposit boxes are not covered by banks or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Victims of Hurricane Sandy, Katrina and other disasters such as floods, whose deposit boxes weren't covered by homeowners insurance, lost valuable heirlooms and documents, while believing they were safe. If you have a safe-deposit box, be sure to get a rider on your homeowners insurance policy to cover any potential loss.
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.
You should have an estate plan if you are the parent of minor children, own property, and care about end-of-life health care treatment. An estate plan is composed of one or more documents used to control health care decisions, your property in the event of incapacity, and the distribution of your property in the event of death. Documents may include a Will, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, a Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney for Property, and a Living Trust. An experienced lawyer can provide further information and assist you in drawing up an estate plan.