Health care powers of attorney are some of the most serious estate planning decisions that people will have to make throughout the course of their lives. Most estate planning decisions relate to structuring assets and ensuring that children and relatives are properly cared for. Health care powers of attorney are different. They are legal documents that allow people to determine how they want their loved ones to make health care decisions on their behalf in the case that they are unable to themselves. These sorts of documents are regulated by the state, and the Illinois legislature recently updated the law that governs health care powers of attorney used in the state, adding new notice requirements and changing the calculus for end of life decision making.
New Notice Requirements
One of the biggest changes that the update made was a complete revision of the notice that precedes the actual health care power of attorney form. The new form breaks the notice provision down into nine headings that have questions beneath them. These headings include:
- - What Are the Things I Want My Health Care Agent to Know?
- - What Kind of Decisions Can My Agent Make?
- - Whom Should I Choose to Be My Health Care Agent?
- - What If My Agent Is Not Available or Not Willing to Make Health Care Decisions for Me?
- - Will Happen If I Do Not Choose a Health Care Agent?
- - What If There Is No One Available Whom I Trust to Be My Agent?
- - What Do I Do With This Form Once I Complete It?
- - What If I Change My Mind?
- - What If I Do Not Want to Use This Form?
Each of these sections include questions and answers that allow the power of attorney form to be filled out in different blocks.
Changes to End of Life Decision-Making
The law also made some important changes in the way that it frames end-of-life decisions. The biggest change in this manner is the fact that the new power of attorney form now distinguishes quality of life from quantity of life. Essentially the new form provides a check box for people to decide whether it is more important for them to have a life they can live fully or whether they would be willing to extend their lives for a hope at making a recovery. The goal of this new distinction is to help people better express what sorts of values their health care should be trying to accomplish.
Estate planning is a complex field that covers everything from health care decisions to future tax liabilities. If you have questions about this new health care power of attorney or some other aspect of estate planning, contact an Illinois estate planning lawyer today. The law firm of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC serves clients in many northwest suburban locations, such as Long Grove, Riverwoods, Palatine, Arlington Heights, and Barrington.
About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.