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Health care directives in Illinois estate planning

When planning their estates, many people choose to leave directions as to what they would like to have happen should they become ill and not be able to make decisions regarding their health care. These inclusions in estate planning are called health care directives. But are these directive enforceable in Illinois? Health care providers are obligated to follow any written health care orders that are put in place, with some exceptions.

If the directive goes against the law or a physician's conscience comes into play, the directive may not be heeded. If doctors feel the health care directive will not be effective or if it goes against hospital rules, those also may be grounds not to follow the directive. If health care practitioners make the decision not to follow the directive, they must inform either the patient or the patient's health care agent, if someone has been so named to act on his or her behalf. That will give the patient or his or her appointee the chance to change facilities and/or doctors.

If a doctor or health care provider does not comply with a written health care directive and fails to notify either the patient or the health care agent, he or she may be responsible for any financial damages. Health care directives carry a lot of weight. It may also be a good idea for a pregnant woman to have a written health care directive when it comes to her own health and the health of her baby. 

All-encompassing estate planning has many facets. It could get confusing when it comes to knowing what should and shouldn't be included. Getting legal counsel may help to clear up some erroneous areas about the process and about different issues such as health care directives. An Illinois attorney may be able to offer sound planning advice.

Source: findlaw.com, "Health Care Directives: Is there a Duty to Follow Them?", Feb. 16, 2018

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