Thinking about the future in case something happens to you can be a daunting task. Many people do not like to think about what will occur if they pass away. However, estate planning is essential if you want your wishes to be carried out and avoid disputes between surviving family members. A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that names the person who can speak for you if you become incapacitated and incapable of making your own decisions. A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone to give a certain individual the authority to make decisions about his or her medical care. Healthcare POA can refer to both a legal document and a person who has been granted this type of legal authority. For women who are expecting a child, it is critical to have a healthcare POA named in case complications during labor and delivery leave them unable to make decisions regarding medical intervention for them or their newborn.  

What Does a Healthcare POA Cover?

A medical power of attorney can include stipulations concerning a wide variety of medical procedures, including hiring a personal care assistant and determining types of medical treatments in general. These directives might only be necessary for a temporary period of time, or they could be needed for a long-term health crisis. 

A healthcare POA will usually only go into effect if a person does not have the mental capacity to make decisions for himself or herself regarding medical treatment. An example could involve a pregnant woman who suffers complications while in labor after she arrives at the hospital, such as a heart attack or stroke. If she loses consciousness for any reason, she will be incapable of communicating whether she wants to be put on life-sustaining support such as a ventilator or feeding tube. Depending on the woman’s condition, any medical emergency could directly affect her baby’s health. If medical staff are faced with the decision to save either a mother or her baby, this is the type of choice that can be made ahead of time with a POA. 

Typically, married spouses are each other’s designated POAs. However, if a woman is unmarried and pregnant, her healthcare POA could be a parent, sister, cousin, or friend.    

Contact a Kenilworth Estate Planning Lawyer

Designating a Healthcare Power of Attorney is very important. If you are pregnant, it is essential that you complete this document before you deliver your child. This will ensure that if complications arise during childbirth, you will be given the medical treatment that you would have consented to if you were able to make that decision on your own. The knowledgeable legal team of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC is prepared to help you draft these essential documents. Our skilled Riverwoods estate planning attorneys are well-versed in Illinois laws and how they may impact your unique situation. To arrange a free consultation, call our office today at 847-934-8000.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.

Sources:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2113&ChapterID=60&SeqStart=2600000&SeqEnd=-1