Naperville Estate Planning Lawyer Talks About Death Delaying Procedures

death delaying, Naperville estate planning attorneyIt is almost always difficult for people to seriously consider the end of their lives. While many believe in an afterlife or the idea of “going to a better place,” death can still be a frightening concept.

In my estate planning practice, I have helped hundreds of clients face their fears and develop comprehensive estate plans that provide for the long-term security of their families. Many are surprised to learn, however, that an estate plan can also include their instructions and expectations for the medical care they receive at the end of their lives. A living will can document your wishes regarding which—if any—death delaying procedures should be used if you are ever diagnosed with a terminal condition and are unable to express your wishes at the time.

A Basic Right

The Illinois Living Will Act expressly states that people “have the fundamental right to control the decisions relating to the rendering of their own medical care. The law goes on to specify that such decisions include having “death delaying procedures withheld or withdrawn in instances of a terminal condition. With the use of a living will, a person can make decisions regarding death delaying procedures in advance, allowing them to be made without the pressures of an emergency situation.

Important Definitions

The language of the law includes certain terms that are important to understand when you create a living will. First, you must be clear as to what constitutes a “terminal condition.” According to the law, a terminal condition is a condition that is not curable or reversible and will cause death. For the purposes of the law governing living wills, the patient’s death must be imminent and any additional medical treatment will only delay death.

Death delaying procedures are also defined in the law and are considered to be any medical procedures that “would serve only to postpone the moment of death” for a terminal patient. It is up to the patient’s attending physician to determine if a particular procedure qualifies, but death delaying procedures generally include:

  • Machine-assisted breathing;
  • Dialysis and other artificial kidney treatments;
  • Blood transfusions;
  • Intravenous delivery of medicine or nutrition; and
  • Tube feeding.

While you have the right to decide which death delaying procedures will be used or not used, simply withholding food or water is not an option. The law specifically prohibits withdrawing food or water if doing so would result in the patient’s death due to starvation or dehydration and not as a result of the terminal condition.

Keep Medical Professionals Informed

Once you have drafted a living will with your wishes regarding death delaying procedures, you should notify your family doctor and any specialists you see regularly. This will allow your wishes to become part of your medical record. You may also choose to appoint a Power of Attorney for Healthcare to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. He or she can help ensure that the appropriate medical professionals are aware of your wishes so that they can be carried out when necessary.

Get Answers Today

If you have questions about death delaying procedures or living wills, an experienced Naperville estate planning attorney can help you find the answers. Call The Gierach Law Firm at 630-756-1160 today and schedule a confidential consultation with a compassionate member of our team.



Illinois Living Will Act