Naperville Estate Planning Attorney Talks About Your Living Will

living will, Naperville estate planning lawyerIf I were to ask you to talk about your estate plan, what would you describe? For many people, their first thoughts turn to documents such as wills and trusts that allow for the transfer of assets to heirs and beneficiaries. Of course, wills, trusts, and similar instruments represent a large part of estate planning, but there are other considerations that can be addressed during the process as well. As an experienced estate planning attorney, I encourage my clients to begin thinking about their long-term physical health and the type of care they wish to receive in the future.

Using a Living Will

There are several ways to formalize your wishes regarding the medical care you want to receive if you are ever unable to make such decisions in the moment. These are generally known as advance directives or advance medical directives, and they are not just for the elderly. Incapacitating conditions and end-of-life situations can develop quite suddenly, even for a person who is currently young and healthy.

One of the most misunderstood advance directives is called a living will. Living wills, unfortunately, are often confused with testamentary wills—documents used to address a person’s estate—but the two are quite different. A living will specifies the actions to be taken, or not taken, in regard to your health if you are not able to make decisions for your yourself in the future. Most living wills delineate a person’s wishes regarding measures designed to delay death.

With advances in medical technology, doctors have the power to extend life way beyond what was possible even a decade ago. A living will can help set some limits on the level of intervention for medical professionals, and define the quality of life you hope to keep in the event of a tragedy.

Living Wills and Powers of Attorney

Your living will can specify the forms of medical treatment you wish to receive, including resuscitation efforts made by medical professionals. For example, it can inform doctors that you do not wish to be put on a ventilator or a dialysis machine. However, a living will cannot encompass every potential healthcare situation; that is why living wills are often used in conjunction with a power of attorney for health care.

Appointing a power of attorney gives another person the authority to act as your proxy in situations that are not covered by your living will, and can make medical decisions on your behalf. It is important to select a medical power of attorney who, at the very least, respects your wishes and will carry them out, even if he or she personally disagrees with your choices. This could mean choosing someone outside of your family as close family members may be hesitant to make difficult decisions when the time comes.

Easing the Burden

Finally, and maybe most importantly, a living will allows those who love you to focus on you, rather than having to debate and stress about making medical choices on your behalf. If you do not create advance health care directives, there may be several people fighting for control over your medical care. You can help them avoid disagreements amongst themselves—which can leave long-lasting family rifts—and with doctors by proactively documenting your wishes.

At The Gierach Law Firm, we understand that creating a living will can be stressful and challenging, but we are here to help. To learn more about advance medical directives or any other estate planning issues, contact an experienced Naperville estate planning lawyer at our office today.

 

Sources:

Ilinois Department on Aging

Illinois Living Will Act