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Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney

If you have preferences as to what kind of medical treatment you want to receive if you are unable to make medical decisions, then Illinois law gives you options for expressing those preferences and for determining in advance who will make those decisions for you. A living will and a power of attorney for health care can ensure that you retain some control over your medical care and the decision as to how and when you will die if you suffer a terminal condition.

Living Will

A living will is really nothing more than a declaration of your preferences about the medical care to be applied if you have an incurable and irreversible condition but lack the capacity to participate in medical decisions. It is a directive to family, loved ones, and medical providers about the medical treatment that you would refuse. Your living will can direct that all life-sustaining measures be applied in the event of your incapacity, or it can declare that all "death delaying" procedures be withdrawn or withheld. The living will has no effect if you are able to make such decisions.

The Illinois Living Will Act contains a standard form that you can use, or you can draft your own living will. You must be an adult of "sound mind" to execute a living will. You must sign the living will and it must include the signatures of two adult witnesses.

You should provide a copy of your living will to your physician and to the persons who will most likely be involved in your medical care and treatment. Even if you have a valid living will, there is no substitute for discussing with your physician and family how you feel about such life and death decisions.

Health Care Power of Attorney

A health care power of attorney goes one step further and appoints a person to make health care decisions for you if you become unable to do so. The health care power of attorney delegates to that individual the right to be informed about your medical care and the authority to admit and discharge you from hospitals or long-term care facilities and to consent to or refuse treatment for you. You can limit the authority of your health care delegate and the circumstances in which your delegate can act. In combination with a living will, the power of attorney for health care can ensure that your trusted delegate controls your medical treatment in accordance with your wishes.

As with a living will, you can use the sample short form found in the Illinois Powers of Attorney for Health Care Act itself or draft your own. Be sure to sign it and give a copy to your delegate, your "attorney" for health care.

By stating and clarifying your intentions in a living will and in a power of attorney for health care, you can make difficult decisions easier for your loved ones. You will also minimize the need for the intervention of strangers -- a court or guardian -- in highly personal decisions. The use of a living will and a health care power of attorney requires careful preparation and knowledge of various laws. Always seek the guidance of a qualified attorney before executing such documents.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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