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Power of Attorney

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POWER OF ATTORNEY

Aging and the end of life are inevitable. Almost everyone will become old and their mind and body will eventually begin to deteriorate. This is why at some point, nearly everyone will need a power of attorney to act on his or her behalf in case they are unable to make personal health decisions. This is why establishing a well-planned and drafted power of attorney can be a critical component of a comprehensive estate plan.

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What is a Power of Attorney?

The Illinois Power of Attorney Act 755 ILCS 45/1-4 allows a person, known as the principal, to use a written instrument called a Power Of Attorney to designate an agent to make property, financial, personal, and health care decisions for the individual.

In Illinois, there are several different types of power of attorneys. The two common ones are for a durable power of attorney or for a springing power of attorney. A durable power is one that is effective immediately and does not require a subsequent event such as incapacity of the principal. The other is a springing power of attorney, which is effective upon the incapacity of the principal, as determined by a written verification by two physicians.

What Is A Power Of Attorney For Healthcare?

A healthcare or medical power of attorney grants or authorizes a trusted agent the power to make medical decisions on behalf of a principal when they are unable to make for themselves. A Power of Attorney For Health Care is often used in conjunction with a Living Wills to allow the principal to maintain the highest level of control over health-related decisions despite potential incapacitation.

What Powers Can My Agent Have Under A Power Of Attorney For Healthcare?

  • Deciding to accept, withdraw or decline treatment for any physical or mental condition of the principal including, life-and-death decisions.
  • Agreeing to admit the principal to or discharge me from any hospital, home, or other institution, including a mental health facility.
  • Having complete access to the principal’s medical and mental health records, and sharing them with others as needed, including after the principal dies.
  • Carrying out the plans the principal has already made, or, if the principal has not done so, making decisions about his or her body or remains, including organ, tissue or whole body donation, autopsy, cremation, and burial.

Who Can Execute a Power of Attorney?

Only a free and voluntary act of the principal, who is of sound mind and is mentally competent, can legally sign and appoint a power of attorney. There are times when the court will require an evaluation completed by a doctor to verify the competence of an individual.

How Do I Choose A Power Of Attorney?

When you consider who should be the agent or agents for your power of attorney, it is important to choose someone who is responsible and can be trusted to look out for you and your best interests. It is important, for you to select an agent carefully, so that this person is willing, able, and ready, to make health care decisions on your behalf when the time arises.

When Does the Agent’s Power Begin?

The principal may specify in the agency the event or time when the agency will begin and terminate, the mode of revocation or amendment and the rights, powers, duties, limitations, immunities and other terms applicable to the agent and to all persons dealing with the agent, and the provisions of the agency will control notwithstanding this Act, except that every health care agency must comply with Section 4-5 of this Act. If a principal does not specifically limit the period of time that this Power of Attorney will be in effect, the agent may exercise the powers given to him or her throughout the principal’s lifetime, both before and after you become incapacitated.

Revocation

In Illinois, a Power of Attorney can be revoked at any time. To revoke it the principal should notify the agent in writing and ensure that all copies of the power of attorney documents are retrieved from anyone who may have a copy. A court may also take away the powers of your agent if it finds that the agent is not acting properly.

Choosing the Right Health Care Options

If you were to become incapacitated without an advance directive, your family and doctors might struggle with providing you care in accordance with your wishes. However, by developing an effective estate plan including health care provisions such as a power attorney, much of the possible uncertainty can be eliminated. It is important to select a Power of Attorney Agent carefully, ensuring that the one you choose is ready, willing, and able to make health care decisions on your behalf. You may also want to choose a Power of Attorney Agent who will be able to work in conjunction and cooperation with your executor, trustees, other powers of attorney, and any other person responsible for carrying out your estate planning directives.

Your Power of Attorney Agent would be responsible for the following, including, but not limited to:

  • Complying with your expressed desires in accordance to terms of your estate plan
  • Acting in your best interest and good faith when you become incapacitated or can no longer make them
  • Accounting for health-related finances
  • Maintaining appropriate documentation
  • Cooperating with healthcare provider
  • Having the same access to your medical records, including the right to disclose the contents to others
  • Deciding which physicians, doctors, hospice professionals, psychiatrists, therapists, other health care professionals, clinics, hospitals, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes provide care or services to you
  • Checking you into and check out of health care facilities, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes, sign entrance forms and applications
  • Signing forms to allow medical care for you, agree that any disputes with or claims against a facility or health care provider be decided by arbitration or mediation
  • Signing release forms or waivers
  • Making decisions about medication, antibiotics, anesthetics and vaccinations
  • Deciding what treatments and therapy you should be given
  • Deciding what operations or surgery should be performed

Why You May Need A Lawyer for Your Living Will?

There are many issues to consider when creating an effective and comprehensive Power of Attorney for Health Care. A Power of Attorney for Health Care document does not have to be executed by an attorney, signed and executed in the presence of an attorney, nor does it have to be notarized. Sometimes choosing the right provisions for your power of attorney or other estate planning documents can be confusing and you may need an attorney to assist you. Consulting an attorney will ensure that process is done properly and meets all Illinois legal requirements. Pinkston Law Group, P.C., can help you create an effective combination of powers of attorney for healthcare, power of attorney for finance, other estate planning instruments, including a Living Will, Last Will and Testament, and Trust and for your Estate.

Talk To A Will, DuPage, And Kane County Power Of Attorney Lawyer Today

Pinkston Law Group, P.C., knows that it is important to make sure that the principal knows his or her options regarding a Power of Attorney for Health Care and we will listen to their needs. Pinkston Law Group, P.C.,  handles a wide variety of clients who need a Power of Attorney for Health Care.

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