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How Can a Living Will Help Plan for Future Medical Decisions?

 Posted on August 24, 2021 in Estate Planning Blog

IL estate lawyerIf there comes a time when you are unable to speak or make decisions for yourself, you will want directives in place that included pre-established decisions. A living will is a document that establishes a person’s medical care preferences should they be unable to communicate their desires. Living wills are one of many estate planning tools that an adult of any age can start preparing. With the guidance of a well-equipped attorney, living wills can be adequately formed and adjusted.

Purpose of a Living Will

A living will allows a person to still obtain the preferred medical treatment and prevents unnecessary hardship on an individual and their loved ones. Living wills allow a person to have their preferences met in a time they can no longer speak for themselves and also relieves their loved ones of the decision-making burden.

The durable power of attorney is a major component of an effective living will. This allows an individual to delegate another person to oversee that their wishes are met in terms of healthcare. The extent of authority that this agent is granted is at the discretion of the living will’s creator. If comprehensive authority is granted, the patient advocate will likely be permitted to consent or refuse consent to any treatment that affects physical or mental health, hire or fire any medical personnel, make choices regarding the best medical facilities for the patient, and more.

Possible Decisions to Include in a Living Will

An individual’s living will should dictate numerous end-of-life care decisions, including what types of life-prolonging treatment they are willing to receive at the end of life. This includes decisions regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), tube feeding, mechanical ventilation, dialysis, palliative care, organ and tissue donations, and antibiotics or antiviral medications.

Tube feeding, for instance, provides an individual with a combination of fluids and nutrients when they are seriously ill or permanently comatose. Without clearly indicating verbally or via a living will that this is against your wishes, tube feeding will be administered in these situations and can be continued indefinitely. If the living will or individual does instruct that the water and food are withheld, they will likely be put on medication that maintains the patient’s comfort until death.

Denying the option of tube feeding is a type of palliative care, which allows for natural death without life-prolonging intervention. A person’s quality of life is the focal point of palliative care and prevents the patient from feeling discomfort as their life ends naturally. Palliative care also includes those individuals who prepare “do not resuscitate” or DNR orders, which can be included in a living will or provided at the time of a medical emergency.

Contact Our Wheaton, IL Estate Planning Attorney

A living will is only one component of the estate planning process, however, it includes important determinations in regards to life-prolonging efforts in the face of serious illness and medical emergencies. With the help of one of our Dupage County estate law attorneys, you can start preparing the proper instructions for your future medical care and other estate plans. Contact our team at Stock, Carlson & Asso. LLC today to schedule an initial consultation by calling 630-665-2500.



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