Planning for the Worst: What Is a Living Will and How Will It Help My Family After I Die?
It isn’t easy to think about what might happen when you die, but taking care of estate planning before you get sick or injured can save your family a lot of stress while ensuring that your wishes are followed. One of the most important end-of-life planning documents is a living will, which is sometimes also called an advance directive or healthcare directive.
What Is a Living Will?
A living will is a document that tells your family and healthcare providers whether you want death-delaying procedures to be used on you if you are dying. The specifics of these documents vary depending on the state, but Vandalia residents can take advantage of a standardized form issued by the state of Illinois. The form does not go into details about different types of care that may apply, but it does specify that you don’t want a treatment that is only designed to prolong life. Comfort care, such as pain medication, is still permitted.
When Does a Living Will Apply?
According to the Illinois Living Will Act, a living will only come into effect if you are diagnosed with a terminal condition, which means that death is imminent, and there is no cure. There may be additional restrictions if you are pregnant. Living wills can also be revoked at any time if you change your mind.
Why Is a Living Will Important?
A living will helps guarantee your wishes will be followed if you are unable to advocate for yourself. It can also give your family peace of mind if they need to make those choices on your behalf. In rare cases, it may even prevent a long and expensive legal battle if your family members disagree on what should be done.
How to Prepare a Living Will
Under Illinois law, you can create your own living will by simply downloading a standardized form and signing it in front of two independent witnesses. However, it’s often a good idea to get an attorney involved in the estate planning process. Your attorney can help you set up legal structures, such as a living trust, that make sure your assets and life insurance payouts go to the right people and can create other important documents, such as a health care power of attorney, to take care of situations a living will do not address.
You never know when something may happen, so it’s a good idea to create a living will and living trust while you’re healthy. Contact a Vandalia, Illinois, attorney today to get your estate planning started.