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.





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.