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Living Wills

What is a Living Will? A Living Will is a legal document that spells out the types of medical treatments and life-sustaining measures you do and don't want, such as mechanical breathing (respiration and ventilation), tube feeding and resuscitation.

Do I need a Living Will? If you know that you would not want extraordinary measures taken to sustain your life, if such measures will only serve to delay the moment of your death, it is a good idea to execute a Living Will.

What is the difference between a Living Will and a Health Care Power of Attorney? If you ever have a terminal and irreversible medical condition, your Living Will serves to inform medical personnel that you do not want extraordinary measures taken to sustain your life if such extraordinary measures will only serve to delay the moment of your death. Through a Health Care Power of Attorney, you appoint another person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to communicate your decisions regarding treatment options. Each of these documents serve a different purpose. In some cases, these two documents are joined together and referred to as an Advanced Directive. In other cases, particularly in Illinois, these two documents are separate and apart from each other.

What is an example of Living Will language? Here is some of the language found in the statutory Living Will in Illinois: "If at any time I should have an incurable and irreversible injury, disease, or illness judged to be a terminal condition by my attending physician who has personally examined me and has determined that my death is imminent except for death delaying procedures, I direct that such procedures which would only prolong the dying process be withheld or withdrawn, and that I be permitted to die naturally with only the administration of medication, sustenance, or the performance of any medical procedure deemed necessary by my attending physician to provide me with comfort care. In the absence of my ability to give directions regarding the use of such death delaying procedures, it is my intention that this declaration shall be honored by my family and physician as the final expression of my legal right to refuse medical or surgical treatment and accept the consequences from such refusal."

A Living Will is a very serious legal document. You should only work with an attorney who has a dedicated focus on preparing and overseeing the execution of Living Wills. The Chicago estate planning attorney of Sylvester Law Firm has such a dedicated focus. Call us today at (847) 251-2999 to discuss how we can help you achieve your health care and estate planning goals.

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