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Lombard estate planning lawyersAdvance directives are among the lesser-known estate planning tools. Studies show that only about a third of adults in the United States have signed an advance directive. There are a few reasons that advance directives are less popular that other types of estate planning documents like trusts and wills. Many people are not aware of how an advance directive can benefit them and their family if an unexpected tragedy should occur. While it can be quite difficult to plan for a possible future incapacitation, doing so has many benefits to both you and your loved ones.

Advance Directives Allow You to Be in Control of Your Future Medical Care

Have you considered what types of healthcare and medical intervention you would want if you ever became incapacitated by a serious illness or injury? For example, if you fell into a persistent vegetative state, would you want to be kept alive via a feeding tube? Facing these types of questions is not fun, but doing so now means that your family will not be burdened with the responsibility of making these plans for you if you became extremely ill. Through an advance directive, you can make decisions ahead of time about what types of medical care you do and do not want should the worst happen. This estate planning tool puts the power in your hands instead of in the hands of family members or doctors.

Durable Power of Attorney Versus Living Will

Advance directives fall into two main categories: durable power of attorney for health care and a living will. A power of attorney for health care is also called a medical power of attorney or health care proxy. A living will allows you to dictate the types of end-of-life medical care you want to receive as well as the treatments you do not want to receive. A health care power of attorney allows you to choose a representative, called an “agent” in Illinois, to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so yourself. Most often, people choose a close friend or family member to be their agent. Being someone’s health care proxy is a tremendously important job, so it is critical that you choose someone responsible who understands your wishes. It is not uncommon for person to create a living will and appoint a medical power of attorney to ensure that the terms of the living will are followed.  

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Lombard estate planning attorneyAs with most estate planning arrangements, you, thankfully, have a say over who you appoint as your “agent” when it comes to your health care power of attorney. Under this planning tool, you are considered the “principal” and the person you appoint as “agent” is granted various permissions regarding your health care.

In short, a health care power of attorney, or POA, is a type of advance directive which allows you to designate someone you trust to make decisions about your health, on your behalf, in the event you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself due to illness or debilitative condition. You can create a binding power of attorney for your health by using the standard state form or by writing your own.

How the Powers Are Determined

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