Illinois Adopts New Power of Attorney Laws

Illinois Adopts New Power of Attorney Laws

Provided By Alan G. Orlowsky

Illinois Adopts new Power of Attorney Laws and one of the most important documents in estate planning is the power of attorney for healthcare decisions, otherwise known as a healthcare proxy. This document allows you to name a person who will make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions for yourself. On January 1, Illinois adopted new rules and regulations pertaining to healthcare proxy documents created in the state that could affect your estate plan.

Power of Attorney for Healthcare

The power of attorney for healthcare gives the power to make medical decisions to another person when you cannot make those choices on your own anymore. The healthcare proxy makes decisions regarding health care, medical procedures, hospitalization, and even end-of-life choices. Like many other estate planning documents, it is important to review and update a healthcare proxy form as life changes occur or new laws are put into place.

The new laws in Illinois make some significant changes to the power of attorney for healthcare forms, language, and implementation. The most important changes to healthcare proxies include the following:

Grandfathered Existing Forms

The law enacted on January 1 does not require people with existing healthcare proxy forms to create a new document. Most of the current Illinois Power of Attorney for Healthcare forms are grandfathered in under the new regulations. As a result, you can keep the old form as long as it still meets your planning objectives.

New Statutory Language

The regulations also introduced new statutory language on the Illinois healthcare proxy form. First, it introduced simpler to understand language in the “notice section” of the document. However, some people have commented that the old form’s language is a bit more flexible when determining healthcare decisions than the new form.

In addition, the new laws scripted entirely new language regarding when the healthcare proxy appointed may remove or withhold life-sustaining treatment or procedures. The new form only provides two options regarding end-of-life decisions. The first option states that treatment should be discontinued if you are not able to “wake up, recover an ability to think, communicate, or experience your surroundings,” and the second option states that “staying alive is more important, no matter how much suffering or expense is involved.” However, the old form had a third option that allowed the proxy to weigh the burdens and benefits of treatment which is not available now.

Authority of the Forms

The new power of attorney forms still allow the proxy to make decisions regarding tissue and organ donation in addition to directing how to dispose of your remains. Finally, both the old and new healthcare proxy forms give you the authority to limit the proxy’s decision making abilities in any capacity if you believe that it is necessary.

Contact an Illinois Estate Planning Attorney

If you have questions regarding the new Power of Attorney for Healthcare forms or other questions regarding estate planning in Northbrook, Evanston, Skokie, Glenview, Glencoe, or Highland Park, let the experienced estate planning attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. help. Call or contact the office today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.

Updated as of July 2019
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