Medical Power of Attorney in Naperville IL
Naperville’s Estate Planning Attorneys Specializing In Health Care Directives
Contemplating end-of-life care or health care that lasts beyond your ability to make decisions for yourself is difficult. However, planning ahead for your medical care is one of the greatest acts of love you can give to your family, who will be struggling as they walk with you through some difficult times. With an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you draft your health care directives, you can make your wishes known about many common scenarios and relieve your loved ones from having to make those decisions during a stressful time.
Many people think of health care directives as a Do-Not-Resucitate order or decisions about life support, but these directives can actually cover quite a broad spectrum of decisions. Illinois recognizes four types of health care directives, and you may choose to create any one or all of these three: a living will, a health care power of attorney, and a mental health treatment preference declaration. Although none of these require an attorney to be valid, they all carry significant legal ramifications and are subject to all of Illinois’ current laws on health care, so many people find it helpful to contact an estate planning lawyer, such as the attorneys at the Homer Law Firm.
A living will allows you to state whether or not you want to be given death-delaying treatments (such as being put or kept on a respirator or dialysis machine, given CPR, or put through surgery) if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and become unable to communicate. Regardless of when you create this document, it only goes into effect if you are diagnosed with an incurable, irreversible condition leading to imminent death.
For example, if you are in the last stages of brain cancer with only weeks left to live and you become unable to communicate your wishes, your living will can come into effect; however, if you are diagnosed with pneumonia, even though the disease has the potential to be fatal, your living will would not be valid since there are treatments available that in many cases can restore you to full health.
Health Care Power of Attorney
Unlike a living will, a health care power of attorney is “durable” by default, meaning it takes effect immediately and continues until your death unless you revoke it or a court finds that your agent is acting dishonorably and removes his privileges. If you want your power of attorney (POA) to only take effect if you become disabled, you can also create a non-durable health care POA by specifying a time or condition upon which the document will take effect. It is important to be very specific, however, since ambiguity about whether or not the conditions have been met can result in your agent being powerless to act on your behalf. At the Homer Law Firm, we’re here to answer your questions and make sure that everything in your document is clear so as to avoid any confusion and delays in your treatment.
A health care power of attorney, whether durable or non-durable, appoint an agent to act on your behalf in all health-related matters. He or she can select, begin, end, or continue a treatment, admit or discharge you from the hospital, receive and read your medical records, and make the final decision on any medical procedure, just as you would. However, you can also limit your agent’s power, if you wish, by spelling out limitations in your heath care power of attorney.
The Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney for Health Care can be found here.
Mental Health Treatment Preference Declaration
A mental health treatment preference declaration allows individuals with a history of mental illness to specify in advance which treatments they do and do not want to receive if such illness should recur and they are deemed incapable of making decisions for themselves. Specifically this document allows you to specify your wishes regarding:
- Electroconvulsive therapy (a.k.a. ECT or “shock therapy”)
- Psychotropic medication
- Admission to a mental health facility for up to 17 days
For example, you may specify that you do not wish to receive a certain type of medication or you are unwilling to be admitted to a certain institution or hospital. You can even deny any of these treatments completely, per your own discretion. The form also lets you (but does not require you to) appoint an individual to act as your agent if and when you are declared mentally unsound, but only within the guidelines set forth in the rest of the document.
In many cases, this kind of directive may overlap with a health care power of attorney, and it’s prudent to talk to a lawyer before creating this kind of directive to determine which is best for your situation.
In Illinois, Do Not Recuscitate (DNR) orders and other instructions about death-delaying preferences are issued by filling out a standard DNR/POLST form. The is a check-the-box and fill-in-the-blank form that does not require an attorney. However, you may have questions about whether or not such directives are prudent for your situation or whether a living will is sufficient or preferred. We’re here to answer any and all of your questions regarding end of life care as it relates to your individual situation.
Homer Law Firm – Giving Naperville Peace of Mind In Health Care
All of these directives are legally binding and subject to the latest Illinois laws regarding powers of attorney for health care. We strongly suggest that you consult an attorney before signing any such document to make sure you understand the ramifications of what you’re signing and agree with the terms. In many cases, your case may not fall neatly into a standard template and you may also need someone to help you sort through your situation and make the best legal decision possible.