A Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA) is a legal document used to name another person who will make medical decisions for you if you can’t communicate with medical professionals, in the state of Illinois. The person you designate will be able to make decisions regarding your health, care, and medical treatment if you become incapacitated.
In Illinois, medical power of attorney is usually referred to as a Power of Attorney for Health Care.
Laws: The Illinois Power of Attorney Act, 755 ILCS 45, Article IV, governs the creation and use of powers of attorney for health care.
If you are considering creating a this legal document, you might also want to consider the following documents:
- Living Will: A living will let you leave specific instructions that medical professionals (and your health care agent, if you have one) must follow if you become incapacitated. Medical powers of attorney and living wills are both types of advance directives that help you communicate your wishes for medical care and treatment.
- Illinois (Financial) Power of Attorney: This form designates another person to make decisions regarding your assets, debts, and other property. It can be as broad or as limited as you would like. You do not have to name the same person for both of these types of powers of attorney in Illinois.
How to Fill in a Power of Attorney for Health Care in Illinois
The Illinois Power of Attorney Act provides specific instructions to create a valid POA form for health care. You can use the following steps to help you fill out the form.
Download a Power of Attorney for Health Care
Use the following templates as a guide to starting creating your own IL Health Care Power of Attorney.
Step 1: Chose an agent
The agent you choose will have the power to make medical decisions on your behalf, so it’s best to choose someone who can set aside their own opinions or ideas and make decisions for you based on their knowledge of your wishes.
This role can be challenging to fill, so be sure that you put some serious thought into who would be a good fit for your Medical Power of Attorney.
Who should you choose as an agent?
Under Illinois law, your agent must be at least 18 years of age. They should also have sufficient mental capacity to act on your behalf.
Many people choose their spouse, a close friend, or another relative as their health care agent. Consider choosing someone who lives close by so they can reach you easily in an emergency.
Whoever you choose to be your agent, make sure you can trust them with important, possibly difficult decisions about your health.
Who can’t be your agent?
A health care agent in Illinois can’t be:
- Your attending physician
- Any health care provider or health care professional that is overseeing your care
Can you have more than one agent?
You can name successor agents on your Health Care POA form. A successor agent will make medical decisions on your behalf if your primary agent is unable or unwilling to act on your behalf.
Only one person can serve as your agent at one time in Illinois, but you can name several successor agents if you would like.
Relevant law: 755 ILCS 45/4-5
Step 2: Specify what healthcare decisions your agent can make
Your MPOA can be as broad or as limited as you would like. However, if you don’t include any limitations in the form, your agent will be able to make almost any decision you would normally make about your health care.
Can you limit your agent’s powers?
Yes. You should expressly state which powers you don’t want your agent to have.
The powers in the Medical Power of Attorney form are designed to be broad, so you will need to include a description of the decisions that you don’t want your agent to make or the specific treatments, medicines, etc. you don’t want to receive.
What is your agent legally unable to do?
Your agent can’t do anything that goes against your wishes or isn’t in your best interest. Since it’s harder for a third party to prove your agent is acting against your wishes if you don’t document them, we recommend writing instructions in the MPOA form if you wish to limit your agent’s decision-making power.
When can your agent start making decisions for you?
An agent can start making decisions for you only after a medical professional determines that you lack the capacity to make decisions for yourself about your health care.
Relevant law: 755 ILCS 45/4-7
Step 3: Sign the form
You are required to sign the Medical Power of Attorney form to make it effective under Illinois law.
Does a Medical Power of Attorney need to be notarized in Illinois?
There is no notary requirement. Illinois law requires that you have a witness sign the form stating that they saw you sign the document and that they believe the signature is yours.
Relevant law: 755 ILCS 45/4-5.1
Who can’t be a witness?
Witnesses of an IL Power of Attorney for health care can’t be any of the following:
- Under the age of 18
- The agent or successor agent named in the document
- Related to you, the agent, or any successor agents by blood, marriage, or adoption
- Your physician, registered nurse, dentist, podiatric physician, optometrist, psychologist, or a relative of any of those individuals
- An owner or operator of a health care facility where you receive care or live
Relevant law: 755 ILCS 45/4-5.1
How long is your Medical Power of Attorney Effective in Illinois?
Your medical power of attorney will remain in place until you revoke it or until all of your directives have been carried out after your death.
Relevant law: 755 ILCS 45/4-6
How to Revoke a Power of Attorney for Health Care in Illinois
If you change your mind about this form for any reason, you can revoke it, regardless of your physical or mental condition.
Use any of the following methods to revoke your MPOA:
- Destroy the original and all copies of the document
- Create a revocation of power of attorney form
- Tell a witness over the age of 18 that you intend to cancel the document and have them sign a written confirmation of your intent to revoke
Illinois laws allow you some flexibility in how you can revoke your POA for health care, but we recommend using a written revocation to clearly communicate to your health care agent and medical professionals that the document is no longer effective.
Relevant law: 755 ILCS 45/4-6