Power of Attorney for Health Care

Power of Attorney for Health Care is another example of a very basic, and affordable, means of estate planning, which, if used correctly, will enable a person to maintain control of health care and end-of-life decisions, even if unable to communicate or direct those decisions.

In enacting the Power of Attorney for Health Act, 755 ILCS 45/4-1, the Illinois General Assembly recognized that the right of an individual to decide about personal and medical care overrides the obligation of the physician and other healthcare providers to render care or to preserve life and health.

Execution of a Power of Attorney for Health Care allows the individual to appoint an agent who will make personal and medical decisions for the individual, which decisions are to be as effective to the same extent as they would if made by the individual.  Obviously, it is imperative that the individual clearly expresses his or her wishes regarding medical treatment, and particularly, end-of-life decisions to the agent.  A recommended adjunct to a Power of Attorney for Health Care would be a Living Will, which would clearly and unequivocably set  forth decision making criteria for health care treatment and end of life care.

As is the case with a Durable Power of Attorney for Property, Illinois has a Statutory short form Power of Attorney for Health Care, codified in 755 ILCS 45/4-10, which, unless appropriately restricted, gives the agent the following authorities:

  1. To give consent to and authorize or refuse, or to withhold or withdraw consent to any and all types of medical care, treatment or procedures relating to the physical or mental health of the principal, including medications, surgeries, life-sustaining treatment, or the provision of food and fluids;
  2. To admit the principal to or discharge from any and types of hospitals or other health care institutions, including residential and nursing home facilities;
  3. To contract for any and all types of health care services and facilities on behalf of the principal, and to bind the principal to pay for such services and facilities;
  4. To examine and copy and consent to the disclosure of the principals’s medical records;
  5. To direct that an autopsy be done, and to make a disposition of any part or all of the principal’s body pursuant to the Illinois Anatomical Gift Act, and to direct the disposition of the principal’s remains.

Revocation of a Power of Attorney for Health Care, once executed, must be done either in writing, or orally in the presence of witnesses, or by obliterating or defacing the document in a manner which indicates an intent to revoke.  Amendments to a Power of Attorney for Health Care can be amended at any time by a written amendment signed and dated by the principal, or by a person acting at the direction of the principal.

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To schedule a free consultation regarding a Power of Attorney for Health Care:

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