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Health Care Wishes: The Importance of Putting it in Writing

Posted on in Estate Planning

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.

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