When making decisions about the future, one document that should be addressed by all adults is a living will. The Mayo Clinic defines a living will as “a written, legal document that spells out medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive.”
With so many medical advances made over the last few decades, it is quite possible for a person to be kept alive for an extended period of time with the use of life-sustaining equipment, such as a ventilator for a person who is not able to breathe on his or her own.
Many people, however, often say they would not want to be kept alive under these circumstances because they feel their quality of life would be greatly compromised. Yet despite a person verbalizing these feelings at one time or another, if he or she does not have any advance directives in place, such as a living will, then these decisions would have to be made by family members.
Unfortunately, family members do not always agree with what is the best medical option. Therefore, an individual’s wishes, if not in writing, may not be followed. Another possible scenario is when two immediate family members (such as two adult children) disagree, and the decision of one’s future is then suddenly up to a judge because lawsuits have been filed. All this can be avoided with a simple living will.
Additionally, there are certain medical decisions you may need to make before you have an attorney draw up a living will. These include:
- Deciding which life-sustaining treatment or choices you would want, which you would not want used, and how long should these treatments be used if your condition is not improving. These treatments include ventilation, feeding tubes, antibiotics and CPR;
- Deciding what your feeling is about being given pain medication that provides relief of pain, but may also hasten death;
- Deciding if artificial life support should be removed if you have been declared brain dead or should it stay in place until your heart actually stops beating; and
- Deciding if you want your organs donated after you have passed.
Along with a living will, you may also want to consider having a power of attorney appointed in the event you are no longer capable of making important decisions about medical or financial issues. An experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney can help you through this process. Call 630-665-2500 today to schedule your consultation.