Estate Planning Attorney in Naperville Talks about the Use of A Living Will

living will, power of attorney, Naperville estate planning attorneyIt is understandably difficult for many people to consider, in advance, their own end-of-life health care decisions. They may convince themselves that they will have plenty of time to think about such things as the reality draws near. What if you do not have plenty of time, however? What if, for example, you are suddenly diagnosed with a fast-moving illness or terminal injuries? Being prepared is always the better option, and, as I advise my estate planning clients, a power of attorney for health care or a living will can help you stay ahead of life’s unpredictability.

Power of Attorney for Health Care

While a living will and power of attorney for health care can be used in conjunction, it is important to understand the basic differences between the two. A power of attorney for health care grants an individual or entity of your choosing—known as an agent—the authority to make medical and health-related decisions on your behalf should you become no longer able to do so. This typically applies to situations of mental or physical incapacitation, and may include more specific directions for the agent regarding your wishes. Any health-related concern you have not previously addressed will be decided at the discretion of your appointed agent. A Naperville estate planning attorney can help you ensure that all of the necessary details have been covered.

A Living Will

Compared to a power of attorney, a living will is a bit more specific. In Illinois, the Living Will Act provides the applicable guidelines for such documents, or declarations, as they are statutorily known. A living will is sometimes called an advance medical directive and is used to outline your wishes regarding “death-delaying procedures” in the event you are suffering from a terminal condition. Your documented instructions, or declaration, as it is called, would only take effect if you are unable to give directions related to your care.

Your living will can be used to permit or prohibit the use of dialysis, blood transfusions, ventilator machines, and intravenous medication or feeding, among other medical procedures, to delay death in a terminal situation. It will not prevent a health care facility from providing food or water, nor would it be observed if you are pregnant and delaying death could possibly allow the fetus to “develop to the point of live birth.” Other considerations may be left to your personal physician or attending physician.

Voluntary Declaration

Under no circumstances can a living will be required by a doctor, hospital, health insurer, or any other organization as a condition of receiving medical services or life insurance benefits. You must make your declaration willingly and without coercion. Anyone who coerces or fraudulently induces a person to create a living will which leads, by compliance with its terms, to the person’s death, may be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter.

If you would like more information about living wills or powers of attorney, contact an experienced estate planning attorney in Naperville, Illinois. At the Gierach Law Firm, we have helped hundreds of clients provide their families with the security and peace of mind they deserve, and we look forward to helping you. Call 630-756-1160 for an appointment today.

 

Sources:

The Illinois General Assembly

The American Cancer Society

The Illinois General Assembly