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Appointing a Healthcare Agent for Your Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney for Healthcare allows you to nominate a person to act on your behalf to make healthcare decisions based on your personal values and wishes when you are no longer to make these decisions for yourself. Here is a link to the form. The person you nominate or name in your Power of Attorney for Healthcare is called your “agent.” You may identify a successor agent or a “backup” agent just in case your named agent is unable to act. However, you are NOT able to name co-agents. Only one person can act as your agent at any given time. This is important because it allows the doctors to rely on the decisions of one person rather than have to sort out a dispute between two co-agents.

Because your agent is given such extensive decision-making power over your health and well-being it is important to nominate someone you trust. You should also speak to your agent about your values and your end of life plans. In the Illinois Power of Attorney document, you have the ability to direct your agent to make specific end of life choices for you.

The following are the two statements you can choose to make regarding your end of life care.

(1) The quality of my life is more important than the length of my life. If I am unconscious and my attending physician believes, in accordance with reasonable medical standards, that I will not wake up or recover my ability to think, communicate with my family and friends, and experience my surroundings, I do not want treatments to prolong my life or delay my death, but I do want treatment or care to make me comfortable and to relieve me of pain.

(2) Staying alive is more important to me, no matter how sick I am, how much I am suffering, the cost of the procedures, or how unlikely my chances for recovery are. I want my life to be prolonged to the greatest extent possible in accordance with reasonable medical standards.

As you can see these two options differ greatly and must be considered and discussed you’re your agent.

Choosing an Agent

If you are married or in a committed partnership, your spouse or partner is likely the best candidate to be your agent under the Power of Attorney for Healthcare. If you are single, widowed, or if your spouse or partner is not the best person to be your agent, you should keep in mind the following guidelines when choosing an agent. First, the individual must know you very well and must be at least 18 years of age. You must trust that your agent will carry out your wishes, even if he or she may disagree with those wishes. Also, your agent must be comfortable talking with doctors and nurses during an upsetting time. Finally, your agent must be willing and able to act – and will be there for you if you are in an accident or become suddenly ill. Keep in mind, your healthcare agent will NOT be automatically responsible for your health care expenses.

Contact Hays Firm for Questions About Power of Attorney for Healthcare

If creating an Estate Plan seems confusing and overwhelming, consider working with the Hays Firm LLC to execute your Power of Attorney for Healthcare and other estate planning documents. It is important for you and your family to have a comprehensive estate plan in place to protect you and your loved ones during your life and after your death. Please contact us to talk about how we can help.