Healthcare Directives in Estate Planning

Most of us don’t like to think about the end of our lives, so it is not uncommon for people to avoid the estate planning process until it is too late. Even those who decide to begin planning their estates often forget to include crucial documents, such as healthcare directives. These documents outline what the drafter would want done in the event of incapacitation or serious illness and have become an integral addition to a well-rounded estate plan. For help ensuring your own needs are provided for if you become ill or mentally incapacitated, please contact Alan G. Orlowsky today.

What do Healthcare Directives do?

There are actually a number of different types of healthcare directives, but all are primarily geared towards helping individuals retain control over their lives when they cannot act or speak for themselves. Do-Not-Resuscitate orders, healthcare power of attorney, Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) and living wills all fall under this category. They primarily concerned with:

● Designating an individual to make decisions on the testator’s behalf in the event of incapacitation;
● Clarifying end-of-life care decisions, including whether the testator wishes to prolong life through the use of feeding tubes, dialysis, and breathing machines, or wishes to avoid the use of any life sustaining measures; and
● Stating what the testator wishes to be done with his/her body upon death, including whether he/she prefers burial or cremation, wants to donate organs or tissues, or wishes certain religious practices be observed.

Testators can include as much detail as they wish when creating a healthcare directive. For instance, many people choose to include specific instructions about life prolonging care, while others simply refuse any medical care whatsoever.

Who Should Draft a Healthcare Directive?

Life is unpredictable, so having a healthcare directive is always a good idea. However, individuals including with disabilities, as well as those who have been diagnosed with chronic or terminal illnesses, and the elderly, should use special care when considering end-of-life healthcare decisions.

Testators should always remember – regardless of how general or detailed the terms of their healthcare directives are, or the nature of their specific situation, they should regularly review their estate plans. This ensures a testator’s true wishes are respected upon his/her death and that an individual’s loved ones are not forced to abide by the terms of an outdated will or directive.

Contact Our Chicagoland Estate Planning Legal Team for Help

Although healthcare directives are one of the most important documents a person can include in his/her estate plan, many people fail to address them. An experienced and compassionate estate planning lawyer may be able to help ensure that this doesn’t happen when planning your own estate. Please call attorney Alan G. Orlowsky at 847-325-5559 to learn more about how an estate planning attorney could help you with your own end-of-life plans.

Updated as of July 2019
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