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Illinois POA: When You Need Someone to Make Healthcare Decisions

Illinois POA: When You Need Someone to Make Healthcare Decisions

A senior is signing on a document

When a point comes that a person can no longer make their own healthcare decisions due to illness, mental health concerns, or injury, a Healthcare Power of Attorney, provides legal guidance to the medical professionals and family as to whom should make those decisions and what your wishes are. This document provides important protections to someone’s family against having to make difficult decisions or fighting amongst each other. In Illinois, the Healthcare Power of Attorney is a critical part of an estate plan.

What Does the Healthcare Power of Attorney Do?

A Healthcare Power of Attorney document does two primary things. First, it states the healthcare proxy, or the person that the individual wishes to have the final say in life-sustaining treatment decisions. Second, it outlines the individual’s desires for life-sustaining treatments. For instance, an individual may state in the Healthcare POA document that the healthcare proxy must continue providing food and water in the event that the individual is in a coma and needs long-term life-sustaining treatment.

Benefits of a Healthcare Power of Attorney in Illinois

Medical technology has evolved to the point that life is sustainable long after a person would have normally died. Without a POA in an estate plan, families must make the decision to end life-sustaining treatments without any direction. Sometimes this creates emotional arguments as different family members do not agree on what the individual wanted. The battles that ensue as a result can be quite intense.

A healthcare POA names one person to be in charge of these decisions and outlines the individual’s wishes, and this removes much of the emotion during these difficult times. This makes the process easier for families by providing clear guidance in a difficult time.

Second, a healthcare POA ensures the individual’s last wishes are followed. If the individual wants to ensure that nutrients are always offered, the POA directs doctors and family members in that way.

Healthcare Power of Attorney is Not a Living Will

A living will is not the same thing as a Healthcare POA in the state of Illinois. A living will states the person’s desires for life-sustaining procedures but puts the power of decision making in the hands of the physician. While a living will is better than no direction at all, a POA made with help from a power of attorney lawyer works better because it gives the decision making to a trusted person.

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