You may have heard that everyone in Naperville should have a living will. If you look online, there are resources for drafting your own living will. However, the creation of any legal document carries consequences, so it is important to understand the ramifications before executing a living will.
Living wills in Naperville may not be given the consideration intended by the creator if they are not drafted and executed properly. An estate planning lawyer could draft a living will designed to fulfill your intentions and ensure that you understand the just what the document may and may not do.
Although living wills are often referred to in legal terms as “advance directives”, the state legislature passed laws governing these documents in the “Illinois Living Will Act”. Living wills are one of four types of advance directives permitted under state law. The others are a healthcare power of attorney, a declaration of mental health treatment preferences, and a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) order. Living wills in Naperville may be only one part of a comprehensive plan to ensure that healthcare decisions are made in accordance with an individual’s wishes.
755 Ill. Comp. Stat. §35/3 describes the requirements for executing a living will. The person creating the document must be “of sound mind” and must either be a legally emancipated minor or must have reached the age of majority. In addition, the person must sign the document or direct another person to sign it, and the living will must be witnessed by two adults.
The law specifies that the patient bears the responsibility for notifying physicians of the existence of the living will and must ask if they are willing to comply with the provisions. The physician is then supposed to make a copy of the living will and keep it with the creator’s medical records. If the doctor is not willing to comply, then the doctor should arrange a transfer.
A living will is a document designed to inform health care providers about an individual’s desire for life-sustaining treatment when the individual suffers from a terminal condition and is unable to express their own wishes. The types of medical treatment at issue are actually referred to as “death-delaying” rather than life-sustaining because death is expected to result imminently from the terminal condition.
Examples of procedures an individual may refer to in a living will include artificial ventilation, IV medication, blood transfusions, and artificial kidney treatments. Even if a living will orders doctors to withhold these treatments, the medical staff is still required under 755 Ill. Comp. Stat. §35/2 to provide “comfort care” and pain medication. Moreover, health care providers may not withhold food and water if the deprivation of these would cause death.
Living wills only take effect when someone is suffering from a “terminal condition” as it is defined in the Illinois Living Will Act. In other words, the advance orders someone specifies in living wills in Naperville would not be followed unless the person is determined to have “an incurable and irreversible condition which is such that death is imminent”.
Because there may be many other situations where an individual wishes to leave instructions for medical treatment, other documents may be necessary. In addition, it is also often wise to designate another person to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. An estate planning lawyer could help create a living will and other advance directives to provide a comprehensive plan to meet future needs.