New Law in Illinois: Time to Make a Health Care Power of Attorney

health care power of attorney, Hinsdale family law attorneys, new law, power of attorney, new Illinois law, Martoccio & Martoccio, advance directiveI live in Illinois—Should I make a Health Care Power of Attorney?

Yes, most certainly you should. On June 27,2014, the Governor of Illinois signed into law a new Health Care Power Of Attorney Act that will be effective January 1, 2015.

How do I create a health care power of attorney?

A health care power of attorney is a written document. This document, or power of attorney, grants permission to another person that you select to make health decisions for you when you reach a time when you cannot make those decisions for yourself. These include times of illness, injury or incapacity. You can grant the holder of the power of attorney, also called your "agent," as much or as little power as you care to give that agent. It is entirely up to you. Plus, your wishes, rather than someone else's in regards to what occurs in your health care, can be expressed clearly in advance before any health problems arise.

Creating a power of attorney also allows you—rather than some member of your family—to make fundamental decisions such as how long your life should be prolonged if you have an incurable disease and no quality of life. There is no downside to creating a health care power of attorney since  you can cancel or revoke that power anytime prior to your death.

The amended Health Care Power Of Attorney Act (HCPOA Act 750 ILCS 45) changes four sections of the old law. The new law prompts you to ask these fundamental questions and to think seriously about your choices in order to tell your agent what you really want. The questions asked are:

  1. What is most important to you in your life?
  2. How important is it to you to avoid pain and suffering?
  3. If you had to choose, is it more important to you to live as long as possible, or to avoid prolonged suffering or disability?
  4. Would you rather be at home or in a hospital for the last days or weeks of your life?
  5. Do you have religious, spiritual, or cultural beliefs that you want your agent and others to consider?
  6. Do you wish to make a significant contribution to medical science after your death through organ or whole body donation?
  7. Do you have an existing advance directive, such as a living will, that contains your specific wishes about health care that is only delaying your death? If you have another advance directive, make sure to discuss with your agent the directive and the treatment decisions contained within that outline your preferences. Make sure that your agent agrees to honor the wishes expressed in your advance directive.
  8. The new HCPOA law is more user friendly and clearly defines the powers of the agent.

Not everyone believes that the new law is good. Some people may say that the law directs people away from life-sustaining options. Whether this is so or not is up to you.

Nonetheless, the new Power of Attorney Act makes it easier for you to create a power of attorney that reflects your true wishes. It also relieves those you love from having the responsibility of making choices by guessing as to what you would choose if you were able to do so. You will save yourself and them a lot of  heartache by expressing your choices clearly.

Consult a Compassionate Illinois Family Law Attorney

Our firm, Martoccio & Martoccio, has been practicing Illinois family law for more than 40 years. We believe that the best choices people make are usually made calmly and it advance of any crisis.

Let our professional lawyers at Martoccio & Martoccio guide you in whatever plan you wish to make whether it be an estate plan, health plan, or the powers of attorney you will need. We also practice divorce law well. Contact our experienced Hinsdale family law attorneys today.

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