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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning attorneyThe Illinois Living Will Act states that every citizen has the basic right to control decisions about his or her health care. Unfortunately, however, there may come a point in a person’s life where he or she is not able to make such decisions on the spot. Advance medical directives, including living wills, can be used to document a person’s wishes regarding certain types of medical care in certain situations, removing the burden of making such decisions from family members and loved ones.

Those who advocate for living wills say that such instruments are crucial in protecting a patient’s rights. Living wills, in particular, address which types of death-delaying procedures the patient wishes to receive—or not receive—if he or she is ever diagnosed with a terminal condition and is unable to communicate his or her wishes at the time. A terminal condition is one that is incurable and will ultimately result in the patient’s death. Death delaying procedures are defined as treatments that will only serve to postpone the moment of death and commonly include:

  • Assisted ventilation and the application of artificial respirators;
  • Intravenous medication and nutrition;
  • Whole blood transfusions; and
  • Artificial kidney treatments, including dialysis.

A living will cannot direct medical personnel to withhold food or water to allow death to occur from starvation or dehydration.

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DuPage County estate planning lawyerAs you look forward to the future, you will need to make some important decisions about the disposition of your property and the care of your dependents. These are the considerations that most people think of when they hear the term “estate planning.” Estate planning, however, also gives you the ability to make advance decisions for your own medical care and treatment so that in the event that you are disabled or otherwise incapacitated, there will be no doubt regarding your wishes.

Your Living Will

A living will is one example of an estate planning document that can be used to formally record your desires regarding the medical care you wish to receive—or not receive—in specific situations. It is a type of advance medical directive that can be used to give instructions to your medical providers as well as to any person you have appointed to make medical decisions on your behalf, such as a power of attorney.

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DuPage County estate planning lawyerThe likelihood of serious health issues increases dramatically as we age. To offer a quantitative example, Medicare reports that 30 percent of its expenditures each year are used on the 5 percent of its beneficiaries that die in that same year, with nearly a third of the costs accumulating during the beneficiaries’ last month of life. There are, of course, many considerations that are much more important than money, but the reality is that the best health care in the world does not allow us to live forever. This makes end-of-life planning decisions all the more important, especially as they pertain to your living will and death-delaying procedures.

What Is a Living Will?

A living will is a legal document that contains your wishes regarding the application and implementation of medical procedures that will delay your death but not necessarily heal you. Your living will is also known as an advance medical directive and is only intended to be used if or when you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness or injury. A terminal illness or injury is one that will cause death regardless of the medical care provided.

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