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Hillside, IL 60162

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Plan Your Medical Care In Case Of A Serious Illness

Posted on in Estate Planning
plan-your-medical-care-in-case-of-a-serious-illness

If you became so seriously ill that you could not tell others your wishes, who would make your medical decisions? Would your family members know your desires about using life-support equipment if it was necessary to keep you alive? Fortunately, there are documents you can prepare now to help plan your medical care in the event you ever have a serious illness and are not able to communicate your wishes. These documents are a "living will" and a "durable power of attorney for health care." Here is a brief summary of each.

  • Living wills. A living will is a legal document that states your desires about using life-support equipment if you are terminally ill and cannot communicate. With a living will, you can authorize the withholding of life-support equipment so you can have a "natural" death. You can also use a living will to specify that you want all types of treatment used to sustain you.
  • Durable power of attorney for health care. The other main document that helps you receive the medical care you want if you ever become incapacitated is a "durable power of attorney for health care." This lets you appoint someone else (such as your spouse or child) to make medical decisions for you if you are not able to make these decisions yourself.
  • Which Is Better? In some states, laws may make it better to have one or the other. In other states, it may be possible to have both, or to combine them in one document.

    Illness can strike at any time and be sudden, so it is best to make these documents as soon as possible. The only requirement for making them is that you are at least a certain age (18 in most states) and that you are legally competent when you make them.

    Some people delay making a living will or health care power of attorney. They think they may later change their mind about what they want to happen if they become terminally ill. There are two key points to remember about these documents:
  • your living will and durable power of attorney for health care take effect only if cannot communicate your wishes. If you can communicate your wishes, what you say at that time will be followed.
  • you can change or revoke these documents at any time. Thus, if you want to change the type of treatment you receive if you become terminally ill, or if you want to change the person you have named to make your health care decisions, you can do so.

Living wills and durable powers of attorney for health care are useful planning tools. They will help make sure you get the medical treatment you want if you are ever unable to communicate your wishes. They can also help avoid disputes between family members over the type of care you should receive. Laws about making these documents are complex and vary from state to state, so be sure to seek legal help in preparing them.

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