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Monday, December 14, 2009

Health Care Power of Attorney, Part 1

What if you are in an accident and are unable to communicate your wishes regarding your own medical care to the medical staff or your family? Who is entitled to make decisions for you? How will they know what you want? Would you want to be kept alive by artificial means if there is no reasonable chance of your recovery?
These are extremely important and difficult questions and unique to each individual's own set of circumstances. If you have completed no planning for this, Illinois has its own Health Care Surrogate Surrogate Act (755 ILCS 40/1-55) which lists, in order of priority, whom may make decisions for you. However, why leave this to the statute and potential disputes among your family regarding what they think your wishes might be? The easiest way to avoid this problem is to have an Illinois Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney for Health Care, otherwise commonly referred to as a Health Care Power of Attorney ("HCPA").
This document enables you to designate your choice for the person that you wish to be your health care agent, the person that may speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself. This completely removes any question of your intent as to whom you wish to act on your behalf to protect you during a time of crisis. You may also designate one or more successor agents that may step in if your primary named agent is unable to act.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which will detail the elements of the HCPA.

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