HEALTH CARE POWER OF ATTORNEY (“Health Care POA”)
A Health Care Power of Attorney (“Health Care POA”) allows you to designate an agent to make all decisions about your health care if you are unable to make these decisions yourself. The choice of agent and successor agents should be made with great care and consideration and should ideally be discussed with your family and agents in advance. If you do not execute a Health Care POA, Illinois statute will control the order of preference for family members to have decision-making ability under certain situations. This applies to all health care decisions and all types of medical conditions.
Generally, the agent under a Health Care POA must follow the guidelines for medical treatment determined by you and will have the ability to direct the withholding or withdrawal of “life-sustaining treatment” (such as tube-feeding and respiratory support). Pursuant to recent changes in the law, the Illinois Health Care Power of Attorney form was revised for 2015 and incorporates the following alternate choices which clients must choose when executing the form:
___ The quality of my life is more important than the length of my life. If I am unconscious and my attending physician believes, in accordance with reasonable medical standards, that I will not wake up or recover my ability to think, communicate with my family and friends, and experience my surroundings, I do not want treatments to prolong my life or delay my death, but I do want treatment or care to make me comfortable and to relieve me of pain.
___Staying alive is more important to me, no matter how sick I am, how much I am suffering, the cost of the procedures, or how unlikely my chances for recovery are. I want my life to be prolonged to the greatest extent possible in accordance with reasonable medical standards.
Consider Replacing Existing Living Will with a Health Care Property of Attorney
If you have a Living Will, consider replacing it with a Health Care POA which gives the agent broader powers than a living will because (1) a living will only applies if you have an incurable and irreversible injury, disease or illness and death is imminent (i.e., not applicable if you are unconscious or in a vegetative state); and (2) a living will generally does not allow the removal of tube-feeding. (3) A living will is a directive to your physician (not family members) to make medical decisions.