Naperville Estate Planning Lawyer on How to Become an Organ Donor
According to estimates from the federal government, an overwhelming majority of American adults support the idea of organ donation. In fact, the concept has the support of 95 percent of the U.S. adult population. With this in mind, it is a bit perplexing to realize that only 58 percent are actually registered organ donors!
In my practice as an estate planning attorney, I am often approached by clients who have questions about organ donation and how to include their wishes regarding the matter in their estate plans. Fortunately for those who wish to be organ donors, the process is fairly straightforward, but it does require taking action.
Making Your Own Decisions
The federal government reports that in 2018, less than half of recovered organs came from registered organ donors. Recoverable organs include the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and intestines. The remaining donations were authorized by consent of the donor’s family. While such donations were gratefully welcomed by the recipients of the organs, the fact remains that grieving families were forced to make difficult decisions regarding their loved one’s body.
Through advance planning, you have the opportunity to make the decision for yourself and to ease the burden on your surviving family members. There are several steps that you should take so that, if and when the time comes, the right people are aware of your intention to be an organ donor.
What to Do
If you have decided that you are willing to donate your organs after your death, you are strongly encouraged to:
- Join the Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry. This registry is maintained by the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, and you can register online. You do not need to have witnesses, and your wishes will be followed regardless of your family’s feelings on the matter.
- Update your driver’s license. Whether or not you have signed up on the Organ/Tissue Donor Registry website, you can register as an organ donor when you get or renew your Illinois driver’s license. If you sign up, your license will bear a “DONOR” designation, and your DMV record will be updated as well.
- Include your wishes in your power of attorney for health care. In addition to signing up on the state’s registry, it also a good idea to write down your plans regarding organ donation in your power of attorney for health care document. This way, your selected agent will be prepared to notify the proper professionals at the appropriate time. While you might also include your wishes in a living will, addressing organ donation in your last will and testament is not likely to help very much. In most cases, a decedent’s will is not located or read until the window for recovering viable organs has long closed.
- Tell people! Once you have signed up to be an organ donor and included your wishes in your estate planning documents, your wishes must be followed, even if your family disagrees. However, you can prevent unnecessary delays and confusion by telling people about your plans. By telling your family members, doctors, and friends (as appropriate), there will be no uncertainty about what you want.
Call a DuPage County Power of Attorney Lawyer for Help
If you would like to learn more about how to record your wishes regarding organ donation, contact an experienced Naperville estate planning attorney. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation at the Gierach Law Firm to discuss your situation today.