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What is an advance directive? 

It is a document that you complete to be used in a situation when you can’t speak for yourself and make your own decisions regarding the healthcare you want.  An Advance Directive can do two things: (1) name the person you want to make decisions on your behalf when you can’t and (2) provide that person and your health care team with information on the decision you would make if you could speak for yourself.

When do I need an advance directive?

You need this anytime you need health care and can’t speak for yourself. Because we never know when an emergency will occur, it is important to have Advance Directives in place.  The best time to complete an Advance Directive is when you can speak for yourself and discuss your wishes with your family and health care team. 

Do I need an attorney to complete an advance directive?

No. These documents can be completed without consulting an attorney. Some Advance Directives require a witness; the form shows when that is needed.

What happens if I don't have an advance directive and can't make my own healthcare decisions?

If you are unable to make and communicate your own decisions about your medical care and are receiving your care in the state of Illinois, a Health Care Surrogate will be appointed by your provider to make needed decisions.  The person appointed is based on a priority of categories that are listed in the Illinois Health Care Surrogate Act.  This person may or may not be the person you would have chosen yourself.  To avoid the need to appoint a Health Care Surrogate it is important to complete a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care to choose the person you want.

What kinds of advance directives are there?

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

The Power of Attorney for Health Care is a legal document that allows a person to name someone to make healthcare decisions on their behalf if a serious accident or illness leaves the person unable to make their own decisions. There are several levels of decision-making power defined in a Power of Attorney (POA). Power can be limited to a specific issue, or it can be left open to cover any healthcare decision. Click here to view the Power of Attorney for Health Care document.

Living Will

A Living Will is a document that allows a patient to describe their wishes about procedures that would prolong their life in the event of a terminal illness or accident. This document does not go into effect until a person is in a terminally ill state as defined by law. A person must be at least 18 years old to create a Living Will. Click here to view the Living Will form.


P.O.L.S.T. stands for Practitioners Order for Life Sustaining Treatment and documents the life sustaining treatment that a person does or does not want. This form is intended to be completed in discussion with your health care provider. When you and your provider sign the P.O.L.S.T. is becomes a medical order that directs all health care providers, including emergency medical personnel, on your treatment wishes. Click here to view the P.O.L.S.T. form.

Organ and Tissue Donation 

Each year, thousands of people die waiting for an organ transplant. Many of them could be saved if more people became organ or tissue donors. One organ and tissue donor could potentially save or improve the lives of more than 50 people. If you intend to be an organ donor, sign the back of your driver's license and tell your family. If you have clearly stated your wishes, their decision will be much easier. For more information go to

If you or a loved one is facing a terminal illness, learn more about the services offered by Blessing Hospice and Palliative Care.

If you would like an informational packet on Advance Directives, please click here to view the booklet, or call the Blessing Hospital Patient Care Services office at (217) 223-8400, ext. 7900.