IS YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER?
At the start of a new year, lots of people start to think about making sure that their house is in order. Legally speaking, that means having a current estate plan, and one of the most important documents is a healthcare power of attorney. This post explains what a healthcare power of attorney is, who should have one, and what to think about if you’re going to have one prepared.
What is a healthcare power of attorney?
A healthcare power of attorney is a document that lets you appoint someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you can’t make them for yourself. In Illinois, our healthcare powers of attorney also typically include instructions for your wishes for end of life care (if you’ve heard of a “living will”, healthcare powers of attorney can often fulfill that same role, but also take care of other things too).
Who should have one?
Because the issues are so important, everyone should have a healthcare power of attorney. If you don’t have one, your loved ones might not be able to help your doctor or hospital carry out your wishes, even if you’ve told them. Having a healthcare power of attorney goes a long way toward making sure that you’re in charge of your own life, even in difficult circumstances.
What should I think about if I’m going to have a healthcare power of attorney prepared?
You should definitely know the name, address, and phone number of at least one person, and maybe a couple of backups, that would trust to make healthcare decisions for you if you can’t make them for yourself. You should also know your preferences for issues like organ donation, nursing home placement, and end of life treatment like do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders.
If you have any questions about healthcare powers of attorney, please call us to talk about your individual needs.