In creating your estate plan, you may include a DNR – Do Not Resuscitate – order so that your loved ones know your wishes if you are severely injured or ill. A DNR is an important advance health directive document to include with your estate planning records such as a living will or a health care proxy. Many people incorrectly believe that if they have a living will or health care proxy that says they do not want to be resuscitated their wishes will be followed. In fact, you need a DNR signed by both you (or your designated representative), your attending doctor, and a witness so that life-sustaining measures such as CPR are not taken by the paramedics or medical team at a hospital or health care facility.
Unfortunately, if the correct forms are not filled out, the paramedics may not be able to follow your verbal instructions for end of life decisions.
Illinois law allows you to make four types of advance directives: a health care power of attorney; a living will; a mental health treatment preference declaration, and a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR)/Practitioner Orders For Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST).
In Illinois, a POLST (Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) is available for a person who is seriously ill or with a life-limiting illness to use to communicate their DNR wishes to all health care and medical personnel. It is a signed medical order reflecting a person’s wishes that travels with the person across settings of care that must be honored by all healthcare providers. The POLST form is an advance directive in accordance with Illinois law. It is NOT intended to replace a Power of Attorney for Health Care (POAHC) form, but to be used in addition to this form.
A POLST can be included in Illinois medical advanced healthcare directives to communicate your wishes to not be resuscitated in a life-threatening illness or injury.
Creating a living will allows you to specify your medical wishes and ensure that your family members understand your health care choices. It is a signed, witnessed legal document that informs your health care provider of your wishes to withhold or withdraw medical intervention and end-of-life or healthcare decisions if you are in a terminal condition or are unable to make decisions about your medical treatment.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a signed, witnessed legal document where someone designates an agent to make health care decisions if they are temporarily or permanently unable to make such medical decisions. A durable power of attorney for health care lasts indefinitely and the person granting the POA authority typically retains the power to revoke it.
Mental Health Treatment Preference Declaration
A mental health treatment preference declaration lets you communicate if you want to receive electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) or psychotropic medicine when you have a mental illness and are unable to make these decisions for yourself. The declaration also allows you to communicate whether you wish to be admitted to a mental health facility for up to 17 days of treatment. You may also elect someone to make your mental health decisions for you with this instrument.
Estate planning and end of life decisions are difficult conversations with your loved ones. Making sure your decisions are legally enforceable often requires the knowledge of an experienced estate planning attorney. When you work with an estate planning attorney as your legal advocate, they can advise you on the best options to fit your needs. For more information about documenting your end of life decisions, contact Estate and Probate Legal Group for a consultation at 630-800-0112.