What Is the Purpose of a Living Will?

living will, Wheaton estate planning lawyerYou may have already considered how you want your assets distributed to heirs after you pass away, but this is not the only issue that estate plans can address. Have you ever wondered what types of medical treatment you would want if you became incapacitated through a serious illness or injury? For example, if you were involved in a car accident and left comatose, would you want doctors to do everything possible to extend your life? Would you want a feeding tube, mechanical ventilation, or other death-delaying procedures? Would you want to let nature take its course?

Through a living will, you can make these types of decisions in advance. This saves your loved ones from being forced to make these decisions for you and also gives you the peace of mind knowing that your medical wishes will be followed.

The Terri Schiavo Case Emphasized the Need for a Living Will

Although it was over 20 years ago, many people still remember the media frenzy surrounding Terri Schiavo. The young woman fell into an irreversible persistent vegetative state after suffering a cardiac arrest at age 26. Her husband believed that Terri would not want to be kept alive via long-term life support and elected to have her feeding tube removed. The woman’s parents strongly disagreed and wanted their daughter to continue receiving artificial hydration and nutrition. The case resulted in a seven-year legal battle.

Even if you do not have strong feelings about the types of death-delaying procedures you do and do not want to undergo if you become incapacitated, making a decision now saves your family from the possible burden of making these decisions on your behalf. You can do so by preparing a living will.

What Types of Procedures Can Be Addressed in a Living Will?

Everyone has their own beliefs about life and death. Some people want every procedure possible used to keep them alive for as long as possible. Others do not want to be kept alive artificially if they have no awareness or quality of life. Through a living will, you can choose the specific medical procedures you do and do not want used in certain circumstances. You can make decisions about procedures including but not limited to:

  • Organ donations
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Tube feeding
  • Antibiotics or antiviral medications
  • Dialysis
  • Palliative care

A living will puts you in control of your future medical care. It may also save your family members from the burdensome task of guessing what types of end-of-life care you would want. To learn more about creating a living will, speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer.

Contact a DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyer

To get started on your living will or for other estate planning needs, contact Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. Call our office at 630-665-2500 and schedule a confidential consultation with a skilled Wheaton estate planning attorney. We can help find the tools that best fit your unique circumstances.

 

Sources:

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/bioethicist-tk-n333536

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/living-wills/art-20046303

Same-Sex Couples Still Face Some Unique Estate Planning Challenges

Illinois estate planning lawyersWhile most married couples can benefit from estate planning, it is not a hard or critical requirement. Most often, their assets would go to their spouse upon death, and minor children remain with the surviving parent, as long as the parent does not supersede them in death or die along with them. Even medical decisions are typically deferred to the spouse if one of them becomes incapacitated. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for same-sex married couples. Learn more about the challenges that same-sex couples face in estate planning, and what you can do to protect your family, with help from the following information.

Same-Sex Couple Estate Planning Challenges

Same-sex couples may experience numerous challenges in the event of death or incapacitation of one member. Families that refuse to accept the sexual orientation of their loved one may challenge the validity of a spouse's inheritance; doctors may question the authenticity of a same-sex marriage, which can delay treatment; and even children may be temporarily removed from a loving parent if the validity of a same-sex marriage is questioned. In short, many potential areas can create post-death issues for surviving spouses in a same-sex marriage.

Why the Challenges Continue to Exist

Even though same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, state laws continue to lag – some more so than others. For example, Illinois not only recognizes same-sex marriage, but it also protects the rights of same-sex couples when it comes to adoption. Same-sex couples are also treated the same as heterosexual couples, should they ever decide to divorce. Still, even in states like Illinois, it is crucial that same-sex couples protect their loved ones with an estate plan.

Protecting Your Family with an Estate Plan

Every married couple should have a will in place, but same-sex couples are encouraged to go beyond this basic estate planning document. A trust can reduce the risk of probate challenges, powers of attorney and living wills can reduce issues that may arise in the event of incapacitation, and adoption to ensure both parents are listed as legal guardians are ways that same-sex couples can protect their families from the possible challenges of same-sex estate planning.

For assistance with your estate plan, contact Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. Our Wheaton estate planning lawyers are backed by over 40 years of legal experience, and we can work with you to develop creative solutions for your unique situation. Schedule a consultation with us by calling 630-665-2500 today.

Source:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/retirement/2017/06/17/estate-planning-more-complicated-same-sex-couples/102862578/

The Legal Side of Will Writing in Illinois

DuPage County, DuPage County estate planning lawyer, estate planning, Illinois estate planning, legal document, living will, will writingWill writing ensures loved ones are financially secure when a person passes. It is not always easy to find the motivation to write a will. It is an emotional experience. However, not taking this step can lead to a multitude of issues ranging from conflict among family members to high estate taxes and even lawsuits.

A will is a document that contains the terms by which a person's assets and money will be distributed after his or her death. Every state has a list of formal requirements that must be followed when a will is written. The Illinois State Bar Association has listed the legal requirements for those who live in Illinois. These requirements include the following:

  • Will writers must be at least 18 years old;

  • The will must be in writing;

  • The will writer must sign the document, along with two legal witnesses; and

  • A beneficiary of the will cannot act as a legal witness.

In the will, a person can name reliable people as trustees. After the person's death, these trustees would be called on to handle the person's estate and carry out any requests he or she had made. While the person is alive, he or she can revoke or change the will as many times as necessary. A change in the will is called a "codicil." However, there are strict legal requirements in order to execute a change in a will.

If you need to change or create a will in Illinois, Stock, Carlson, Flynn & McGrath, LLC can help. We can address any of your concerns or questions regarding estate planning and the writing of a will. Our DuPage County estate planning lawyers also offer advice regarding inheritance taxes. We assist clients in Hinsdale, Lombard, Downers Grove, Naperville and DuPage County. To schedule a consultation, please call us at 630-665-2500.