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

The Many Benefits of Drafting a Living Will

living will, DuPage County estate planning lawyersA living will is a type of advance health care directive that allows a person to make decisions ahead of time about their wishes regarding medical treatments and end of life care. It is not a pleasant thought to have, but have you ever wondered what would happen if you were incapacitated and could not express your wishes regarding the type of medical care you do and do not want to undergo? For example, if a serious car accident leaves you in a permanent vegetative state, would you want to be kept alive via a ventilator? It can be very emotionally taxing to make the decisions contained in a living will, however, doing so means that your surviving loved ones will not have to make these decisions on your behalf.

A Living Will Lets You Make Decisions About Your Future Medical Care

In a living will, you describe the medical treatments you do and do not want to receive if you become incapacitated and cannot specify this information yourself. Medical treatments commonly discussed in a living will include dialysis, mechanical ventilation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), tube feeding, antibiotics and antiviral medications, and palliative care. You will also be able to dictate if you would want to be allowed to spend your last days at home. Many people have strong feelings about organ, tissue, or body donation. In your living will, you can specify that you only wish to be kept on life-sustaining machines for the purposes of organ donation. If you wish to donate your body to a university or other donation program, you will also be able to specify this in your living will, as well as in other estate planning documents.

Your Loved Ones Will Not Be Burdened With Making Your Medical Decisions

Extensive legal battles can result from family members that disagree about an incapacitated loved one’s medical care. Many people remember the events surrounding the death of Terri Schiavo in 2005. The young woman had suffered severe brain damage and was not expected to ever recover from a persistent vegetative state. Her husband wanted her feeding tube removed so that she could pass away, but her parents fought aggressively to keep her alive. Disagreements like these can be avoided when an individual has a living will. Instead of family members having to guess what type of end-of-life care you would have wanted, they will be able to follow your directions.

Contact a DuPage County Living Will Lawyer

By taking the time now to develop a living will, you can save your loved ones a great deal of stress and anxiety in the event of a tragedy. For help deciding what types of estate planning documents best fit your needs, assistance with drafting a living will, and more, contact a Wheaton estate planning attorney at the law firm of Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule an initial consultation.

 

Sources:

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

https://time.com/3763521/terri-schiavo-right-to-die-brittany-maynard/

Estate Planning for Victims of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's disease, estate planning, Illinois Estate Planning LawyerAccording to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer's disease is number six cause of death in this country. However, in the list of the top 10 causes of death, Alzheimer's disease is the only cause which shows no signs of being prevented or cured. The disease's progression cannot even be slowed.

In order to bring awareness to this disease, November has been designated as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. There are currently 5.3 million Americans who have been diagnosed with the disease, and those numbers continue to increase. Projections are that in 10 years, the number of people who are 65 years or older will spike by 40 percent—to 7.1 million.

For those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, what type of estate planning should be in place?

As difficult as it may seem, the sooner the person who has been diagnosed puts these plans into place, the better. Typically, in the early stages of the disease, a person is still legally competent to make these important decisions. However, the longer a person waits, the more incapacitated he or she may become and will most likely no longer have the ability to make these decisions. Sadly, that is the reality of this disease.

One of the first documents that should be drawn up is a durable power of attorney. The designated power of attorney will be in charge of handling all of the person's financial affairs when the time comes that they are no longer able to do so. The document should clearly state which financial dealings the power of attorney shall have access to, including whether or not he or she can sell or purchase any property and whether or not he or she can make financial gifts on the person's behalf.

There should also be a durable power of attorney for health care decisions. This person would be allowed to make medical decisions once the Alzheimer's patient is unable to do. However, it is also important that this person understands the Alzheimer's patient's wishes. Other documents to have drawn up, which will legally cover those issues, include a living will, mental health treatment declaration, and a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) and practitioner's orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST).

A diagnosis of Alzheimer's can be devastating and trying to plan for the unknown future may feel overwhelming. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, please contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney to ensure that your future wishes are carried out.

Sources:

http://www.alz.org/facts/

http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075500450HArt.+II&ActID=2113&ChapterID=60&SeqStart=300000&SeqEnd=1900000

https://www.illinois.gov/aging/AboutUs/Documents/poa_healthcare.pdf

http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/health-care-regulation/nursing-homes/advance-directives