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Do I Need a Medical Power of Attorney?

A medical power of attorney gives another person the ability to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so. It is important to understand that a medical power of attorney differs from a living will. A living will contains decisions you make for yourself in advance, such as not to be kept alive by machines when there is no hope for recovery, whereas a medical power of attorney authorizes someone else to make those decisions for you. Many people opt to have both a living will and a medical power of attorney to help ensure their personal healthcare wishes are understood and followed. An experienced Des Plaines estate planning attorney can assist you in preparing and executing these important documents, as well as with all other aspects of estate planning.

Residents of Illinois can use the Illinois Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney for Healthcare, or you can write your own medical power of attorney. Either way, you will need to designate an “agent” and one or more “successor agents” who you trust to make future healthcare decisions for you. You can grant your agent the ability to:

  • Make decisions about medical treatment, psychiatric treatment, hospitalization, surgical procedures and home health or nursing home care, including whether to withhold a treatment or procedure

  • Have access to your medical records

  • Authorize an autopsy

  • Make an anatomical gift of any or specific organs

You can also provide your agent with special instructions about care you do or do not want, such as life-sustaining treatment in the event of irreversible coma and procedures that conflict with your religious beliefs or are unacceptable to you for other reasons. Just like a property power of attorney, a medical power of attorney can be as broad or as limited as you want it to be, and you retain the right to revoke or revise it at any time.

A medical power of attorney helps to ensure that any future healthcare decisions made on your behalf will rest in the hands of someone you trust to act in accordance with your personal beliefs, wishes and values. As with any legal document, it is important to fully understand a medical power of attorney before signing it. For assistance with this and all other estate planning matters, contact a knowledgeable Des Plaines estate planning lawyer today.

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