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Lombard estate planning attorneysPeople vary dramatically in their feelings regarding medical treatment. Some people want every possible medical intervention to be taken, even if those medical treatments will only slightly extend the duration of their lives. Other people only want the bare minimum actions taken if they become seriously ill or injured.

Have you ever considered the types of medical treatments you would want to undergo if you became extremely sick? What if you were too sick to express these wishes? A power of attorney for healthcare is a type of estate planning instrument that can allow you to take your future medical care decisions into your own hands.

Health Care Power of Attorney Basics

Through a power of attorney for health care, you can designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. The document gives this individual authority to make decisions about your medical treatments if you cannot do so yourself. Instead of a doctor who you may have never met making these decisions—and who might not share your personal values—you can entrust these important decisions to someone you know and trust. The individual you designate to speak on your behalf is called a health care proxy or agent. Your proxy may be a close friend, spouse, family member, or anyone else you choose. Once you have chosen who your proxy will be, you can have a conversation with him or her about the actions you do and do not want taken if you become gravely ill.

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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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