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Which Advance Directive Options are Best for You?

 Posted on August 17, 2016 in Estate Planning

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

Illinois law makes four specific options available to those wishing to document their health care directives in advance. If you wish, you may utilize any combination of these options. The purpose of every advance directive is to give you say over your own health and who else you would like to give that power to if you are unable to make decisions someday.  You may choose any of the following:

  • Living will;
  • Power of attorney;
  • Mental health treatment preference declaration; and
  • Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) order.

Which Directives Should You Choose?

The advance medical directive(s) you choose should be based on your particular needs and objectives. To understand how each can help you, it is important to know how the different types of directives work:

  • Living will - Choose to draft a living will if you want to tell your health care providers your wishes regarding any death-delaying procedures you may be subject to in the future. A living will is intended for someone with a terminal condition and only applies if you are chronically ill. The law requires you to have two people witness you sign your living will, and you have the right to cancel it at any time;
  • Health care power of attorney - Unlike a living will, a power of attorney is for anyone who wishes to appoint someone else to make health care related decisions for them, on their behalf. You have the freedom to dictate as many specifics as you want to in order to ensure the agent you appoint is clear on what you do and do not want. Just as you have the right to cancel your living will at any time, you also have the right to end your power of attorney at any time. Otherwise, it will remain in effect from the time you sign it until your death;
  • Mental health treatment declarations - If you want to make sure you have a say over receiving mental health treatments such as electroconvulsive treatments or psychotropic medications in the event of mental illness, you should consider signing a mental health treatment declaration. This type of directive expires three years from the date you sign up, so make sure it stays up to date; and
  • DNR order - Signing a DNR indicates two things: you do not authorize the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should your heart or breathing stop, and you have expressed your general wishes for life-sustaining treatment. If you want a DNR to be entered into your health record and considered valid, the law requires you have all of the following signatures: Your personal signature, the signature of your attending practitioner, and a witness who is at least 18 years old.

Deciding which advance directives you should pursue is an excellent way to plan for the unexpected, but it can certainly be a confusing and emotional task. Speak with a professional DuPage County wills and estate planning attorney to make the process easier from start to finish. Call A. Traub & Associates today for a personal, confidential consultation.



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