Do You Need A Living Will?

naperville estate planning lawyerThere is much more to modern estate planning than deciding who gets your belongings when you are gone. In fact, there are two major parts of a comprehensive estate plan – testamentary planning, and what is called “incapacity planning.” Incapacity planning is extremely important, and no estate plan is complete without it. While a will allows you to make decisions about what happens to your property after you die, a living will allows you to make decisions about yourself in the event that you are still alive, but have become terminally ill and cannot speak for yourself. 

Because people are living so much longer these days, many will experience some type of age-related cognitive decline. Having a living will in place lets your care team and loved ones alike know your wishes about how you would want to be cared for in this event. 

Who Needs a Living Will?

Almost everyone should have a living will. End-of-life planning can be a little scary, and it is not always a pleasant topic of conversation for families. However, it is very important that a living will be in place well before it is needed. 

If you find it hard to think about what types of medical care you would want when you are approaching the end of your life while it is all a remote possibility, imagine how much more difficult these choices could be for your family members if something has already happened to you and they do not know your wishes. A little planning can go a long way towards making this situation much more manageable when it happens. 

What Kinds of Things Does a Living Will Cover?

There is some flexibility in a living will. You will be able to make a variety of decisions related to end-of-life care. A living will does not take effect until you are incapacitated and terminally ill. A living will pertains specifically to death-delaying procedures. People tend to have strong feelings about whether they would want a course of treatment that merely prolongs their life when recovery is not possible and their quality of life is unlikely to improve. Death-delaying procedures include things like IV nutrition and hydration or other forms of artificial life support. 

You can be very specific about what types of life-prolonging care you would and would not want. If you would agree to IV nutrition, but would not want to be intubated and on a ventilator when such measures offer no chance of recovery, you can include enforceable language stating this. 

There are some limits as well. For example, you could not consent to have your food and water stopped if doing so would actually cause your death rather than merely not delaying it further. You are also free to revoke or alter your living will at any time while you still have the capacity to do so. 

Contact an Illinois Estate Planning Attorney

Gierach Law Firm creates strong, comprehensive estate plans that include legally sound and thorough living wills. Our experienced Naperville living wills lawyers can help you create the incapacity plan that is just right for you. Call 630-756-1160 to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our skilled attorneys. 


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Please note: These blogs have been created over a period of time and laws and information can change. For the most current information on a topic you are interested in please seek proper legal counsel.

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