Most people think of estate planning as deciding what happens to your belongings after you pass away. While this type of planning, called testamentary planning, is a very important part of estate planning, there is much more to it than that. A thorough, comprehensive estate plan also includes planning for potential future incapacity. People are living very long lives these days, and the fact is that many of us will one day reach a point where we can no longer make important decisions for ourselves, including medical decisions. By using a living will combined with powers of attorney, you can make certain important choices regarding your future medical care now. An attorney can help guide you through creating one so that you can take control of your own later-in-life care.
What Decisions Can I Make Using a Living Will in Illinois?
Living wills are used to govern end-of-life care for people who are terminally ill. The main purpose of a living will is to allow people to choose for themselves whether they would want to receive life-prolonging care in the event that they become terminally ill while unable to make decisions for themself due to incapacity.
Most people have very strong opinions about whether they would want to receive aggressive treatments like chemotherapy that may prolong their life without curing them at a point in their life where they are incapacitated, typically by age-related mental deterioration. Some people have religious beliefs and would want all efforts made to keep them alive as long as possible. Others would prefer to be placed in hospice and kept comfortable. These are intensely personal decisions that everyone should make for themselves.
When Does a Living Will Take Effect?
Your living will has no effect until several conditions are met. First, your doctor must confirm that you are terminally ill, meaning that no medical efforts can cure you and death is inevitable. Also, you must be incapacitated to the point where you cannot express your own wishes.
If you have a power of attorney and your agent can be reached, they will be able to take over making medical decisions for you and your living will will not be used. However, you can use your power of attorney to limit the power of your agent if you do not want them to be able to agree to life-prolonging care on your behalf.
In most cases, your attorney will suggest that you complete powers of attorney and your living will at the same time, along with a few other documents like a DNR if you are ready for one.
Let an Experienced Illinois Estate Planning Attorney Help You
Lucas Law is skilled at helping people create strong living wills to keep their medical decisions in their own hands. Our Barrington estate planning lawyers will make sure you have all the documents you need to protect your end-of-life wishes. Call us at 847-381-8700 for a confidential consultation.