Keeping Living Wills Current

Illinois living will, DuPage County estate planning lawyerliving will is a document decided before death that prescribes the medical attention you choose in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. According to the Illinois General Assembly, the Living Will Act was passed to ensure that every state resident had the fundamental right to control the decisions related to his or her own medical care. This means that these decisions are not left to chance or to family in the event that sickness or other incapacitating factor makes the person unable to decide for himself.

Proponents of living wills say that these are matters of patient rights—physicians are not able to withhold or withdraw death-delaying procedures if a patient has signed a living will. For a living will to be valid, it needs to be signed by the patient (before he or she experienced the debilitating conditions) in the presence of a witness. The death-delaying procedures can include, but are not limited to:

  • Assisted ventilation; or
  • Intravenous feeding or medication; or
  • Blood transfusions; or
  • Artificial kidney treatments.

Determining a living will before a person becomes sick is essential, as discussing a person's last wishes when he or she is straddled with debilitating disease can be difficult and emotional. According to a recent article in The Guardian, however, a living will can sometimes be a negative thing for physicians. In certain cases, physicians can be backed into providing treatment far after a patient's body has ceased functioning because he or she signed a living will—which is sometimes decades old.

Extreme medical advances in recent decades allow physicians to keep a person alive far past the point of truly living. In the worst-case scenario, a living will can sometimes require physicians to perform harrowing and terrible procedures in order to honor a person's wishes—which perhaps he would no longer have chosen for himself. According to The Guardian, 70 percent of an average person's medical care costs are accumulated in the last six months of his or her life.

Living wills are important for anyone, regardless of medical history or socioeconomic status, because they allow a person to determine what he or she wants for his or her final days. Yet it is imperative that they be updated, reviewed, and revisited often, most beneficially in the presence of a legal professional. If you are ready to draft your living will or interested in learning more, do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney today.


Health Care Wishes: The Importance of Putting it in Writing

living will, health care wishes, DuPage County estate planning attorneyAs much as we may not like to think about it, each birthday means we are getting older, and one day we will no longer be with our loved ones. But before that day comes, illness or injury may prevent us from expressing our health care wishes to our families, specifically in regards to what we want or do not want when it comes to medical treatment. Hence, it is important to take care of these issues before the need actually arises.

The following are suggested steps to take when it comes to planning for your future. A qualified estate planning attorney can help guide you through each step.

  • Should you become incapacitated, make sure you have advance directives in place so your family and medical providers know what your wishes are for medical treatment. A living will outlines exactly what medical care you wish to be taken and which care you would refuse. Medical treatments that you may want to address in your living will include antibiotics and other antiviral medications; comfort care; dialysis; mechanical ventilation; resuscitation; and tube feeding.
  • You should also have a health care power of attorney, also known as a health care proxy, drawn up. This document appoints someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you are not able to so yourself. This document is different than a regular power of attorney which only addresses financial matters.
  • Although it is important to share your wishes with your family, it is equally important to have a letter of instruction which specifically states what your wishes are, including any special requests or instructions for funeral arrangements and other matters. The information in this document should include all important contacts (including insurance companies, employers, etc.). It is also helpful to write down who you wish certain possessions you own to go to, even if this is covered in your will.

Several websites provide templates for the above documents; however, when it comes to end of life documents, different states have different laws. Not being aware of your state's current laws could cause an unfortunate legal issue for your family if these documents are not properly prepared. If you are ready to express your health care wishes in writing, an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney can assist you and your family.

Understanding the Four Main Types of Life Insurance

equity index life insurance, life insurance, term life insurance, types of life insurance, universal life insurance, Wheaton estate planning attorney, whole life insurance, willsFor obvious reasons, purchasing life insurance is an emotionally charged decision. Still, it is an important move that could save loved ones from financial hardship. This is especially true if you are the main income earner within your family.

It is a smart idea to consult a legal professional to discuss any concerns you have related to life insurance, wills, and estate planning. An experienced estate lawyer can provide feedback and advice based on your particular circumstances.

One of the most common challenges that come with purchasing life insurance is knowing the difference between the various policy types. Below is a basic breakdown of the most common insurance plans.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is generally the most affordable. These plans aim to provide a specific and reliable premium for a set amount of time. Options to increase the premium are usually available to clients who exceed the plan's duration.

Whole Life Insurance

According to CNN Money, these plans guarantee a specific cash amount at the time of death, and they usually require a steady payment plan that rarely changes. Given the guarantee, this plan ends up being a more expensive choice but can offer greater financial security should the worst happen.

Equity Index Life Insurance

A form of whole life insurance, equity index policies tie potential earnings to a specific market index. For many, this is an attractive option since, depending on the stock market at the time of death, one can accrue greater payouts than other plans would offer.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal life insurance plans have the benefit of providing a tax-free cash value, but they come at a higher cost than other policies. Many people find universal life insurance attractive since there is the option to adjust the premium each month. It is also possible to borrow against these types of policies, though this can be a risky decision.

When choosing a life insurance policy, the advice of a Wheaton estate planning attorney may prove invaluable. For legal services in Wheaton, contact the Illinois law office of Stock, Carlson, Flynn & McGrath, LLC today at 630-665-2500.