Securing a Valid Power of Attorney for Healthcare
As we have discussed in previous blogs, the Power of Attorney for Healthcare is one of the simplest and most effective estate planning tools. With a Power of Attorney for Healthcare, you can nominate a person to act on your behalf to make decisions based on your personal values and wishes if you are unable to do so. 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 be your agent.
Many married couples believe that a Power of Attorney for Healthcare is not necessary. Even though spouses may attend all medical appointments together and may be intimately familiar with each other’s overall well-being, they still may not have complete authority to make decisions on behalf of each other in the event of a disability. While hospitals often defer to a spouse or partner, they are not required by law to do so. It is also difficult to transfer a spouse or partner to a rehabilitation facility or nursing home without a power of attorney. It sound practice for all couples – married and unmarried – to have power of attorney documents naming each other as agents. Here is a link to the form.
In order for a Power of Attorney for Healthcare to be valid, it must be specifically executed according Illinois statute. When you execute or sign a Power of Attorney for Healthcare, you must sign the form in front of a witness. The witness cannot be related to you and cannot be the agent or backup agent you name in the document. The power of attorney document does not need to be notarized. After you and a witness sign the document, it is important that you give a copy of the document to your agent. This allows the agent easy access to the document in the event or an accident or sudden which renders you incapacitated. At your next doctor’s appointment you who should also give a copy to your doctor to be kept in his or her files.
After you execute your Power of Attorney for Healthcare, you may change your mind about your agent or any other decision you specified in the document. In this situation, you must tell someone who is at least 18 years old that you have changed your mind. You should then destroy the Power of Attorney document that you wish to revoke and complete a new Power of Attorney for Healthcare that reflects your wishes. Again, once the new document is properly executed you should provide copies of the document to your agent and doctors and inform them that you revoked your prior document and all copies of it should be destroyed.
Contact Hays Firm for More Information About Power of Attorney for Healthcare
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. If you have any questions a Power of Attorney for Healthcare and other estate planning documents please feel free to contact Hays Firm LLC to discuss how we can help you.