The Many Benefits of Drafting a Living Will

living will, DuPage County estate planning lawyersA living will is a type of advance health care directive that allows a person to make decisions ahead of time about their wishes regarding medical treatments and end of life care. It is not a pleasant thought to have, but have you ever wondered what would happen if you were incapacitated and could not express your wishes regarding the type of medical care you do and do not want to undergo? For example, if a serious car accident leaves you in a permanent vegetative state, would you want to be kept alive via a ventilator? It can be very emotionally taxing to make the decisions contained in a living will, however, doing so means that your surviving loved ones will not have to make these decisions on your behalf.

A Living Will Lets You Make Decisions About Your Future Medical Care

In a living will, you describe the medical treatments you do and do not want to receive if you become incapacitated and cannot specify this information yourself. Medical treatments commonly discussed in a living will include dialysis, mechanical ventilation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), tube feeding, antibiotics and antiviral medications, and palliative care. You will also be able to dictate if you would want to be allowed to spend your last days at home. Many people have strong feelings about organ, tissue, or body donation. In your living will, you can specify that you only wish to be kept on life-sustaining machines for the purposes of organ donation. If you wish to donate your body to a university or other donation program, you will also be able to specify this in your living will, as well as in other estate planning documents.

Your Loved Ones Will Not Be Burdened With Making Your Medical Decisions

Extensive legal battles can result from family members that disagree about an incapacitated loved one’s medical care. Many people remember the events surrounding the death of Terri Schiavo in 2005. The young woman had suffered severe brain damage and was not expected to ever recover from a persistent vegetative state. Her husband wanted her feeding tube removed so that she could pass away, but her parents fought aggressively to keep her alive. Disagreements like these can be avoided when an individual has a living will. Instead of family members having to guess what type of end-of-life care you would have wanted, they will be able to follow your directions.

Contact a DuPage County Living Will Lawyer

By taking the time now to develop a living will, you can save your loved ones a great deal of stress and anxiety in the event of a tragedy. For help deciding what types of estate planning documents best fit your needs, assistance with drafting a living will, and more, contact a Wheaton estate planning attorney at the law firm of Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule an initial consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/living-wills/art-20046303

https://time.com/3763521/terri-schiavo-right-to-die-brittany-maynard/

Illinois Intestate Succession Rules

intestate succession rules, Illinois Estate Planning AttorneyWhat happens to your assets and property if you die without a will? Every state's laws have a different answer to that question. In Illinois, the law that covers "intestate succession" is the Probate Act of 1975.

If you die without a will in Illinois, then the law covers any assets that you own which do not come under one of the following:

  • Life insurance policy proceeds;
  • Retirement accounts;
  • Payable-on-Death (POD) bank accounts;
  • Securities or stocks which are in a transfer-on-death (TOD) account;
  • Property held on a TOD deed;
  • Property owned with another individual(s) in a tenancy by the entirety or a joint tenancy; and
  • Property or assets placed in a living trust.

Without a will, any other assets would go to your closest relatives. Who those relatives are depends on who you have as relatives. For example, if you are not married but have children when you die, then your children will receive all of your assets. In addition to your biological children, Illinois law defines a legal child who is entitled to your estate as:

  • Any adopted child;
  • Any foster or stepchild;
  • Any child who was conceived but not born before your death;
  • Any child born outside of marriage who you accepted paternity for;
  • Any child you gave up for adoption where the child's adoption decree specifically states his or her right to inherit from your estate; and
  • Any grandchild who's parent (your child) died before you.

If you are married, but have no children or other descendants, then your spouse will receive all of your assets.

The more family you have, the more complicated it can get. If you do have a spouse and children or other descendants, then your spouse will get half of your assets and your children the other half.

If you pass away and you only have your parents as relatives, then they will receive your assets. If you only have siblings when you die, then your siblings will receive your property. If both your parents are alive and you have siblings, then each will receive an equal portion of your assets. However, if one of your parents has passed, then the surviving parent would receive a double portion of your assets.

No matter what the situation, it is clearly better to have a will in place when you die. Contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney to discuss drafting up a will and to answer any other estate planning questions you may have.

Keeping Living Wills Current

Illinois living will, DuPage County estate planning lawyerliving will is a document decided before death that prescribes the medical attention you choose in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. According to the Illinois General Assembly, the Living Will Act was passed to ensure that every state resident had the fundamental right to control the decisions related to his or her own medical care. This means that these decisions are not left to chance or to family in the event that sickness or other incapacitating factor makes the person unable to decide for himself.

Proponents of living wills say that these are matters of patient rights—physicians are not able to withhold or withdraw death-delaying procedures if a patient has signed a living will. For a living will to be valid, it needs to be signed by the patient (before he or she experienced the debilitating conditions) in the presence of a witness. The death-delaying procedures can include, but are not limited to:

  • Assisted ventilation; or
  • Intravenous feeding or medication; or
  • Blood transfusions; or
  • Artificial kidney treatments.

Determining a living will before a person becomes sick is essential, as discussing a person's last wishes when he or she is straddled with debilitating disease can be difficult and emotional. According to a recent article in The Guardian, however, a living will can sometimes be a negative thing for physicians. In certain cases, physicians can be backed into providing treatment far after a patient's body has ceased functioning because he or she signed a living will—which is sometimes decades old.

Extreme medical advances in recent decades allow physicians to keep a person alive far past the point of truly living. In the worst-case scenario, a living will can sometimes require physicians to perform harrowing and terrible procedures in order to honor a person's wishes—which perhaps he would no longer have chosen for himself. According to The Guardian, 70 percent of an average person's medical care costs are accumulated in the last six months of his or her life.

Living wills are important for anyone, regardless of medical history or socioeconomic status, because they allow a person to determine what he or she wants for his or her final days. Yet it is imperative that they be updated, reviewed, and revisited often, most beneficially in the presence of a legal professional. If you are ready to draft your living will or interested in learning more, do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney today.