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Lombard estate planning lawyersMost people know that estate planning chiefly deals with the distribution of assets and personal wealth after a person passes away. A last will and testament or trust can enable an individual to decide how his or her hard-earned assets are divided among heirs. While having a will is a critical part of making sure your final wishes are fulfilled and your family is provided for, wills do not address what will happen if you become incapacitated due to illness or injury. This “incapacity planning” is often disregarded as unnecessary or too emotionally burdensome to manage, but planning for potential incapacitation is critical to having a comprehensive estate plan.

Do Not Burden Your Family with Making Health Care Decisions on Your Behalf

Have you ever considered what would happen if you became unable to make decisions about medical care or financial affairs because of a serious illness? Often, when people fall ill and are near death, their family members have to make excruciating decisions about death-delaying procedures. Deciding when and if procedures like mechanical ventilation, surgery, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), dialysis, antibiotics, or transfusions should be used can be a tremendously burdensome task for family members. However, those who have incapacitation plans in place save their family members from being forced to make blind decisions about financial matters and medical procedures.

Living Wills and Power of Attorney

In Illinois, individuals can make their desires regarding your medical treatment known by executing an advance directive such as a living will. A living will differs from a regular will in that it only takes effect when a person is incapacitated by a terminal illness and cannot speak for himself or herself. Another option to plan for potential incapacitation is to use a healthcare power of attorney. Assigning a trusted loved one to be your healthcare power of attorney is another way to plan for potential incapacitation. A healthcare power of attorney allows you to choose a representative who can make healthcare decisions for you when you are unable to do so.

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