Illinois Power of Attorney for Health Care
The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (“DPAHC”) may be the most important legal document you will ever sign. The concept of a DPAHC is fairly straightforward and is far more broad in its use and application than the living will (see below). In a DPAHC, you name an agent (and successor agents) who will be empowered to make a broad variety of medical decisions on your behalf should you be unable to make those decisions for yourself for any reason. In the DPAHC (and medical directives that we attach), you may give your agent guidance regarding your wishes in certain situations. 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 DPAHC, Illinois statute will control the order of preference for decision-making ability under certain situations, and conflicts may arise.
In 2011, Illinois amended its statutory DPAHC. The new forms made some important, and helpful, changes. Previously, we included a rider to navigate our way around tricky HIPAA privacy regulations on behalf of the agent. The new forms include provisions that enable a designated agent to obtain necessary information from health care providers. The new form also allows for specifying wishes for, or against, organ donation.
* Please note that while Illinois statute provides a short form POA for health care, within the form there are some important decisions that should be made in consultation with your estate planning attorney and your family.
Illinois Living Will
The purpose of a Living Will is to state your wishes for care in the case of a terminal condition. In its most common form, the living will provides that if: 1) you are terminally ill, 2) with no hope of recovery, and 3) death is imminent, then remove death delaying medical procedures (e.g. artificial means of life support). The living will applies only if you have a qualified terminal condition as certified by two physicians. The living will is widely recognized in all 50 states and is useful for making wishes clear for when you are terminally ill. However, it is not a broad health care declaration and should generally be used only in conjunction with the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and never as a substitute for it.