Whether you have already created an advance directive (or advance directives) for your healthcare, or not, National Healthcare Decisions Day is the perfect day to take a minute to consider your wishes regarding your healthcare. As long as you remain competent, you will be able to make your own healthcare decisions. What happens, however, if you become incapacitated? How will your healthcare decisions be made and who will make them for you? The good news is that you have the ability to be pro-active and create a document, often referred to as a Healthcare Power of Attorney, that will allow others (who you choose) to make healthcare decisions for you. In addition, you may also choose to create other documents to inform your healthcare providers of your specific wishes, regarding particular healthcare circumstances that may later arise. If you do not have a Healthcare POA in place, then now is the perfect time to consider creating one for yourself.
If you already have a Healthcare Power of Attorney (POA), in place, then give yourself a pat on the back. By creating a Healthcare POA you have taken a very important step with regard to future healthcare decisions for yourself, should you later become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. Even though you may have already created a Healthcare POA, National Healthcare Decisions Day is the perfect time to review your POA (and/or other healthcare advance directives), particularly if it has been years since you have last looked at your POA. If you have not reviewed it recently, are you sure that it still accurately reflects your wishes? When you do review it, to be sure that it still reflects your wishes, also check to be sure it includes successor agents. Designating successor agents means that should your first named agent be unable to act on your behalf, there is a better chance that there will be someone else in place to act as your agent. With regard to the people that you have designated as your agent and successors, do they know that you have done so, and do they know where you are storing the original and/or copies? Failing to let the people you have designated as your agent and successors know that you have done so, and/or failing to let them know where to find your Healthcare POA if needed, will be fatal to your Healthcare POA working as you intended it to work, in the event of your incapacitation. Assuming that you have informed your agent and successors that they have been so designated and they know where it is stored, have you also talked with these persons to further explain your wishes? While advance directives allow you to give written directions to the people you are naming to act on your behalf, it is still important to have a conversation with those so designated to fully explain your wishes and philosophies with regard to your health and healthcare decisions. Having periodic conversations with your agent and successors is, likewise, recommended to be sure these people remember your wishes and to be sure that they are aware of any changes in your wishes or philosophies, which may have evolved over time.
The available advance directive options for healthcare will vary from state to state. Thus, it is important to seek advice regarding the options available to you in your state. If you reside in Illinois and would like information and/or assistance in creating a Healthcare Power of Attorney (POA), or you would like to have your current POA reviewed, contact our office at 630-844-0065 to schedule an appointment.
©Copyright 2015 by Constance Burnett Renzi. All rights reserved.
Our office is, also, available for consultation regarding estate planning (including Wills and/or Trusts), life care planning (powers of attorney), special needs planning, probate, guardianship matters, and/or other elder law issues. The Elder Law Center, P.C. proudly serves clients throughout Illinois and is located in Aurora, IL, in the Chicago Western Suburbs. Our office can be reached via telephone (630-844-0065) or email through our website: http://www.elderlawpc.com.
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