Residents of Collinsville possess the authority to determine the course of your healthcare, both presently and in the days to come. An advance directive is a documented declaration you create, outlining your preferences for future medical choices in case you become unable to make them independently.
Federal legislation mandates that you receive information about your entitlement to establish an advance directive when you enter a healthcare facility. Healthcare entities subject to this obligation encompass hospitals, nursing facilities, providers of home health or personal care services, hospice programs, and health maintenance organizations.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to designate someone, known as your “agent,” to make healthcare choices on your behalf in the event you become unable to do so yourself. In this arrangement, you are referred to as the “principal.” While you retain the authority to make healthcare decisions while capable, your agent steps in when you cannot. You have the option to provide your agent with specific directives regarding your healthcare preferences, such as your desires for or against certain treatments. It is crucial to note that your agent cannot be a healthcare professional or provider. Additionally, it’s advisable to have a witness, who is not your agent, observe your signing of the power of attorney document.
The authority granted to your agent is comprehensive, extending to any specific instructions you provide concerning the care you wish to receive or forego. This may encompass decisions about life-sustaining treatments, their continuation, refusal of certain treatments based on personal or religious beliefs, anatomical gifts, and the disposal of remains. Unless you establish time limits, the Health Care Power of Attorney remains in effect from the date of signing until your passing. You can revoke it at any time, either verbally or in writing, and even appoint a backup agent if your primary agent is unavailable or unwilling to act. If you wish to make amendments to your power of attorney, you must do so in writing.
A Living Will
On the other hand, a Living Will conveys your wishes to healthcare professionals regarding the use of death-delaying procedures if you have a terminal condition and cannot communicate your preferences. Unlike a Health Care Power of Attorney, a Living Will solely applies in the context of a terminal condition, defined as an incurable and irreversible condition where death is imminent and life-prolonging measures would only prolong the dying process.
You can use a standard Living Will form or draft your own, specifying your preferences regarding death-delaying procedures. Two witnesses, excluding your healthcare professional, must be present when you sign the document. It is your responsibility to inform your healthcare professional if you have a Living Will, provided you are capable of doing so. Similar to a Health Care Power of Attorney, you can revoke your Living Will at any time, either verbally or in writing.