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DuPage County estate planning attorneyAn unexpected illness or injury can happen to anybody. If you have been diagnosed with a serious health concern, you may worry about how medical decisions will be made if you cannot make them yourself. For example, if you fell into a coma, how would doctors know what type of medical treatment you do and do not consent to? In situations like these, a power of attorney for health care, or medical power of attorney, can allow you to choose a trusted representative who will make medical decisions on your behalf.

Responsibilities of a Medical Power of Attorney

Most people want to have a say in the types of medical treatment they do and do not wish to undergo. If you are worried that your health issues may worsen and you will not be able to speak for yourself in the future, consider choosing a representative through a healthcare power of attorney. This representative, called an agent or health care proxy, should be a person who you trust to follow your directions regarding medical treatment and care.

Your agent has the responsibility of working with doctors, surgeons, and other medical staff to ensure that you are only receiving the treatment that you have agreed to. Generally, a durable power of attorney for healthcare gives an agent the authority to make decisions on your behalf regarding medication, diagnostic tests, nutrition and hydration, surgery, and life-prolonging procedures like artificial ventilation and tube feeding. You will be able to more specifically define your agent’s decision-making authority when you fill out the healthcare power of attorney form.

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Lombard family law attorneyAlso referred to in the state of Illinois as a POLST—practitioner orders for life-sustaining treatment—a do-not-resuscitate order can give you and your loved ones great peace of mind knowing your health wishes are officially documented should you be unable to make decisions about your own health matters. In the event of severe injury or illness, a DNR becomes a valuable advance directive document, so you may decide to include one when making your other estate planning arrangements.

How a DNR Is Different

Generally, federal law requires that every person admitted to a health care facility is informed of their to right to make an advance directive. The Patient Self-Determination Act requires not all, but many, providers to present information on advance directives to patients under their care. Unlike other advance directives, such as a power of attorney or living will, a do-not-resuscitate order exists to specifically address the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should your heart or breathing stop. Additionally, its purpose is to express your desires regarding any life-sustaining treatment.

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