Our firm, Fuqua Winter Ltd., recommends that everyone over 18 years of age should have a POA healthcare. Everyone (even, college students and unmarried persons) can appreciate that without a POA for healthcare, health providers and their family may struggle with not only who will make critical medical decisions on your behalf, but what you would have wanted in the event you become incapacitated.
What is a healthcare power of attorney?
A healthcare power of attorney designates someone to make healthcare decisions for you, should you become unable to make those decisions for yourself. In Illinois, there is a “statutory form” (meaning the form has been adopted by state law), which designates the person executing the POA as the “principal” and the person chosen to make the decisions as your “agent”. Under the Illinois statutory POA healthcare, you provide your agent with specific directions about the healthcare you wish to receive. For example, you can direct that the quality of your life is more important than the length of your life. You can also direct that treatments to prolong your life not be undertaken if in accordance with reasonable medical standards, you will not wake up, or recover your ability to think, communicate and experience your surroundings.
The POA and Illinois Law
In Illinois, the statutory POA healthcare form (755 ILCS 45/4-10) has been changed three times in recent years (2011, 2015 and 2016). While the statutory form is not required and many hospitals have developed their own POA forms, a concerted effort has been made by the state legislature to make sure the directives and authority contained in the current statutory POA are clear and helpful to families and healthcare providers. Also, should you already have a POA healthcare, a savings provision in the Illinois state statute means previously executed POA’s continue to be valid.
Should you wish to update or prepare for the first time estate planning documents, make sure your plans include the signing of a Power of Attorney for Healthcare.