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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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Lombard estate planning lawyersEvery person deserves to have control over the medical care they receive, including that which is provided at or near the end of their lives. Advance medical directives, such as a living will, give you the power to make certain decisions about your end-of-life care in advance, taking into account the possibility that you may not be able to make such decisions if and when they are necessary. Unfortunately, many advance medical directives are open to interpretation which could result in a decreased quality of life and unneeded suffering. There are some things you can do, however, to ensure that medical care is provided in accordance with your wishes, regardless of your condition at the time care is needed.

Death-Delaying Procedures

A living will is used primarily to specify the types of death-delaying procedures that you wish to be provided if you are ever diagnosed with a terminal condition and are unable to make care decisions for yourself. Death-delaying procedures refer to treatments and care that are postponing death in situations where healing or curing the condition is not possible. Such procedures include blood transfusions, artificial respiration, dialysis, and intravenous feeding or medications.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyWhen it comes to making decisions regarding the end of your life, there are many factors to consider. No matter how difficult it may be for you to think about, leaving such decisions to your loved ones to make can leave lasting feelings of guilt, regret, and wondering if they made the right choice. Fortunately, there are several ways you can prepare in advance regarding your desired end-of-life care. They represent an important but often overlooked element of the estate planning process.

Advance Medical Directives

There are two common ways in which you can make your end-of-life care decisions ahead of time, and both are considered types of advance medical directive. An advance medical directive, put simply, is contingency plan that specifies your wishes to be carried out if you are no longer able to make such decisions for yourself. Living wills and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders allow you to maintain control of your own life to the very end.

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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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Lombard estate planning lawyerWhen it comes to estate planning and documenting your wishes regarding your health care, it is important to know which options you have and to understand your rights before you put anything in writing. After all, this is your chance to speak your mind concerning what you do and do not want in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your own health.

Acquainting yourself with the full scope of the options available to you can help you select the advance directives that best suit your needs and desires. Having these plans in place not only offers the advantage of bringing you peace of mind, but it can also benefit your loved ones as well by providing them with the comfort knowing you are prepared for the unexpected.

The Four Main Advance Directive Options in Illinois

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Lombard estate planning attorneyIt is never easy for one to think about the end of their life, and preparing a living will can feel unsettling as it stirs up a mixture of emotions. Despite the unpleasant nature of the subject, a living will can actually be a very useful and powerful tool when it comes to protecting your best interests, in turn offering a sense of peace of mind. Knowing you have addressed your wishes, boundaries, and directives regarding your health, property, and finances can give you a sense of accomplishment and make things easier for your loved ones.

How Does a Living Will Benefit Me?

In the state of Illinois, there are two kinds of power of attorney: one that covers health care and personal issues, and one that covers the management of property. Similar to these documents, a living will is an advance directive that also serves a specific purpose. It exists to allow a person who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness to express their desire to have death-delaying procedures withheld or withdrawn in the event they cannot speak for themselves.

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estate planning, family future, Lombard estate planning attorneysAlthough it is a subject that many Americans would rather not think about, eventually our individual lives will end and our loved ones will inevitably be left with burdens, be it emotional, financial, or both. Decades ago, when someone passed away, there were no credit cards, families did not travel as much, and divorce was taboo. Everything that was left behind generally either went to the state or the family members left behind. With the growing complexity of family structure in conjunction with our spending habits, the need has arisen to secure a plan for after we die. Legal documents such as wills, trusts, and other estate planning measures can help protect the future of your loved ones after you pass.

Know the Difference

The best and most direct route of starting the process is to know which option is best for your current circumstances. It may be that none of the options are a completely perfect or it may mean that multiple options will help achieve your goals. No matter the case, it is necessary to understand the each option. 

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