Estate Planning and the Refusal of Death-Delaying Medical Procedures
Estate planning includes more than creating a will or trust to address the disposition of your assets after you pass away. Estate planning also deals with decisions about future medical care you do and do not wish to receive. Have you ever considered what type of death-delaying treatments you would want to receive if you were gravely ill? For example, would you want to be kept alive via a ventilator even if doctors did not believe you would ever regain consciousness? Creating a comprehensive estate plan allows you to be in control of these types of deeply personal decisions.
A Living Will Allows You to Make Medical Decisions in Advance
A living will is one type of advance directive which enables you to decide in advance what types of medical care and treatment you do and do not consent to. If you are incapacitated by an accident or illness, doctors must follow the directions outlined in your living will to guide their decisions about end-of-life medical care, including death-delaying procedures. Death-delaying procedures which are frequently addressed in a living will include but are not limited to:
- Kidney dialysis;
- Blood transfusions;
- Cardiac resuscitation/defibrillation;
- Surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy for terminal cancer; and
- Artificial life support.
Some people choose to deny all of these medical treatments while others want extreme measures to be taken to keep them alive as long as possible. The decision about what types of death-delaying medical procedures you do and do not want if you become terminally ill is completely up to you. However, if you do not have estate plans in place to address these issues, it is possible that these private decisions will be made by doctors or your family members.
Completing a Living Will Takes the Decision-Making Burden Off of Your Loved Ones
Most of us can remember the tragic “right-to-die” case involving Terri Schiavo. The young woman had fallen into an irreversible persistent vegetative state and was being kept alive via a series of machines. When her husband learned that there was no chance of her recovering, he elected to have doctors remove the feeding tube. He believed that his wife would not have wanted doctors to use death-delaying procedures to keep her alive.
Schiavo’s parents vehemently disagreed, however, and wanted her to be kept alive for as long as possible through artificial life support and the feeding tube. The disagreement lead to years of public legal battles. If Schiavo had created a living will before falling into the vegetative state, these types of decisions would not have fallen to her loved ones upon her incapacitation.
Contact a Naperville Living Will Attorney
For help with a wide range of estate planning needs, contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney at the Gierach Law Firm. Call us at 630-756-1160 to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your needs.