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Divorce and Your Medical Power of Attorney

Judith Trentman Wilson, Attorney at Law, P.C. Feb. 28, 2020

When you married your spouse, you may have thought that your union would last forever. Now that you are heading for divorce, though, you have some decisions to make. While opting for a collaborative end to your marriage may make sense, you may also need to take steps to protect your health care decisions.

Even if you are healthy, you likely recognize that a serious illness or injury may render you incapable of advocating for your desired medical treatment. Fortunately, Illinois law allows you to name a medical power of attorney to do the job for you. If you have previously designated your soon-to-be-ex-spouse as your medical POA, however, you may want to revisit the matter even before your divorce concludes.

Understanding Divorce and Medical POA Problems

Commonly, to ensure that treatment is as quick as possible, married spouses designate each other as medical POAs. Nonetheless, if you are in the process of divorcing your spouse, having him or her as your medical POA may present a few different problems. For example, your partner may not feel comfortable communicating your wishes to your family members, friends, medical professions or others. Alternatively, he or she may be difficult to reach.

Naming a New Medical POA

With very few exceptions, you have the right to designate anyone you choose as your medical POA. If you no longer wish to have your spouse in the role, you should consider choosing someone you trust. Your designee should also understand your wishes and feel comfortable advocating for them. This is especially true if you have existing medical concerns. Even naming an interim medical POA until you can decide on a long-term choice may be an option.

If you do not have a decent relationship with your spouse, continuing to have him or her act as your medical POA is probably a bad idea. Even if your relationship is fine, having an ex-partner as your designee may be awkward. Therefore, as part of the divorce process, be certain that your medical POA truly reflects your wishes.