Our firm is always stressing the need for Healthcare Powers of Attorney and Living Wills which are examples of healthcare directives. Remember, that the Healthcare Power of Attorney is a document that names an agent to make healthcare decisions for you should you lack capacity to make those choices. It not only pertains to decisions concerning life sustaining treatment if death is imminent, but also pertains to those situations where death is not imminent.
By contrast, the Living Will is a document which is restricted to those situations when death is imminent. It is basically a written pronouncement by you that you do not want life sustaining measures taken if those procedures only delay the dying process. Unlike the Power of Attorney for Healthcare, an agent is not appointed and the health provider must continue to administer food and water.
But what if you have neither a Power of Attorney for Healthcare nor a Living Will, your death is imminent and you lack the capacity to make medical treatment and life sustaining decisions? This is when the Illinois Healthcare Surrogate Act will apply. The Act generally allows for family members, friends, guardians and other named persons to make these type of decisions.